In this two
page article
on Datamation, Bruce Byfield looks at the history and the
current state of the Linux desktop. From the second page: “In studying this transformation of the Linux desktop, you can easily see possible turning points. What would have happened if the KDE 4.0 release had been delayed until it had more features? If Ubuntu had been more patient about its changes getting into GNOME? If GNOME 3 had been less radical, or user complaints addressed? If some or all of these events had occurred, then maybe GNOME and KDE would have remained as dominant as ever.

However, I doubt it. More likely, other incidents would have caused a similar fragmentation sooner or later, no matter how anyone acted.”