The Ubuntu Unity dash is actually quite useful, here I am viewing the recently watched multimedia files and it showing some online videos as well. It is actually very fast as a start menu, you just press the Windows key and it will open, then you type “term” and hit enter and you have opened the terminal window. That is faster than drilling down through the levels of a Windows `95 styled start menu. That is what the Windows 8 Metro interface is like as well, but in a contest between the two, I think that Unity wins. With the Unity HUD integrated into recent versions of the Unity desktop, it is even better. The screen-shot to the right shows the music lens showing my Autechre music collection. There are a few more lenses available such as a Wikipedia lens amongst others, but some are not available as PPAs yet. But the Unity desktop will get this enhanced functionality very soon. There is a Reddit lens as well as an Ask Ubuntu lens.
The Unity dash therefore is a nice interface to the desktop, if you can search the Internet from your Unity menu. There is more information on this page: http://www.howtogeek.com/112510/supercharge-ubuntus-unity-dash-with-lenses-scopes-5-lenses-to-install/ concerning the Unity dash and how to install a couple of useful lenses for the dash. They both work very well indeed. The Reddit lens allows you to filter results by sub-reddits. And the Ask Ubuntu lens is great for finding help with any problems you may have with your Ubuntu installation.