I tend to prefer KDE. Yeh, I know, you are more used to Gnome as you have already stated, but I tend to find more useable apps with KDE ties and capabilities than when I go Gnome. If I see an app that is linked to Gnome right away I know two things about it; first, that it will be 'prettier' than an equivalent KDE app, and second, that it will be a bit less 'capable' than a KDE one. Brasero as compared to K3b (cd/dvd burner apps) comes immediately to mind.
Of course, you can always try another desktop. I would stay away from the newer versions (Cinnamon, Mint) or Ubuntu types as they are not as stable as say the straight Debian-based distros provide. You can also play with Xfce, lxde, windowmaker, or even Plan9 -but these are more for those purists looking for minimal processing demands and/or disk space for the desktop than for the Office-style environments the more popular desktops provide.
I have been running the cinnamon desktop on linux mint installed on an HP laptop to develop PHP & java apps. I have found it to be extremely stable and very fast. Compile times are similar to any other operating system. Desktop switching is fast. For software development on the LAMP stack or for android development using eclipse this is my favorite configuration. Of course if I have to work on C# then there is nothing better than Visual Studio 2010 on Windows 7... or for the newest apps Visual Studio 20122010 on Windows 8. Oddly enough, the Win8/VS2012 combination is the least stable IMHO and experience.