Just a quick post to say I have just downloaded the release candidate for Linux Mint 12 and I am in the process of installing it in Virtual Box to give it a test drive before deciding if I will upgrade my current system when it goes to distribution release. I currently run Linux Mint 11 on my main working PC and find it quite a stable release. On first look I'm not sure I like the desktop layout. One of the reasons I like mint is the single task bar (panel) at the bottom of the desktop and the Mint menu layout. With the move to Gnome 3.2 if you want a more traditional Mint look and feel you need to log off the session and in the log on screen click on the cog on the right of the user log in panel and choose the option 'MATE' then re log on. You will now be presented with a desktop that is more akin to the current Mint 11 layout although the menu is more akin to the old traditional Gnome menu and not the current menu as in Mint 11 which I love.
On first look apart from the locked panels at the top and bottom of the desktop and the lack of the Mint 11 menu, the installed software is much the same as the current stable Mint 11. You get all the video and audio codecs installed out of the box and with the addition of Ubuntu restricted extras you will have MS fonts installed and other less 'Free' applications that Ubuntu does not include as part of the underlying operating system, this is clearly Ubuntu 11.10 under the hood but with Gnome 3.2 and without the Unity interface favoured by Canonical in their Gnome release.
I'll post more after I have had more time to explore the differences and made a hardware install on one of my test PC's