From the install screen to a fully loaded desktop, Ubuntu 10.10 looks nicer and is easier to use than its predecessors. We’ll take a look at our favorite new features in Ubuntu’s newest version, appropriately released on 10/10/10.

The Ubuntu Font Debuts

Ubuntu 10.10 is the first version of Ubuntu to come with the Ubuntu font family, and it uses it for many user interface elements by default.

If you’ve been using Ubuntu for any length of time, the change is immediately noticeable. In our opinion, it’s a very positive change, but if you prefer the old font, you can change back to the Sans font in System > Preferences > Appearance.

Email, Chat and Microblogging Are Integrated Well

If you’re like us, you’ve been slowly moving from desktop apps to doing everything in your web browser. 10.10 refines the work that 10.04 started in integrating email, chat, and microblogging into the Ubuntu desktop – and it’s good enough that we’re switching back to desktop apps.

The mail icon in the top panel provides a central location for notifications from Evolution, Empathy and Gwibber. If you don’t use these apps for email, chat, and microblogging, this improved Ubuntu integration may be reason enough to switch.

The Software Center is Better Organized, Offers For-Pay Software

The software center has been improved all around. The first thing you’ll notice is a new section for featured and new software packages.

You will also see a few new entries in the list on the left. One is History, giving you a detailed list of the packages you’ve installed or upgraded.

Another new entry is For Purchase software. Right now there’s only one piece of software to buy, but we’re interested to see if this new avenue for selling Linux apps spurs new development from companies that have stayed away from Linux in the past.

The Installer is Simpler and Faster

Note: The installer shown is from the 10.10 Release Candidate. It should be functionally the same as the final 10.10 installer, though the final version may be updated to use the Ubuntu font.

There have been a few small but extremely useful changes to the installer on the Ubuntu CD. The first is a set of checkboxes that can greatly speed up the computer set-up process by doing some common tasks that you usually have to do manually after your system has finished installing.

The second and most impressive change is that the system will actually start the installation process while you go through the tedious steps of setting your time zone, main user account, and so on.

We did experience some slowdown when trying to fill out some of these screens, but once we finished filling them out, the system had already almost finished installing. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

Other New Additions

While those are the new features we think are the most exciting, there are many other minor additions and changes.

The Update Manager now shows displays a short description more prominently than the actual package name.

If you’re playing music with Rhythmbox, song information and simple controls are available in the volume control applet in the top panel.

Shotwell is now the default application for organizing and making simple changes to photos, replacing F-Spot.

And, of course, many software packages have been updated to more recent versions.

What’s your favorite new feature of Ubuntu 10.10? If you already use 10.04, are these changes enough to get you to upgrade? Let us know in the comments!

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