Astonishing to hear that from somebody who came from Windows Conceptually, I think Gnome kinda goes the macOS way (less is more), while KDE/Plasma is close to Windows, where you can customize almost anything to your needs (more so than on Windows). Take the task/status bar that you seem to dislike: It is 100% under your control. With the configure button, usually to the right, you can remove it. Or move it to the left/right top edge, and while at it, reduce it’s height so it’s like on Gnome. Or reduce it’s width, so it’s like on macOS. Or make it auto-hide, as also possible on Windows. Or, or, or… Or discover the details. Many of the widgets that you can put on such a bar (of course you can have multiple of them…) make good use of, for example, the mouse wheel. Volume: up/down. Taskbar-widget switches tasks, Desktop-widget switches desktops. And of course each widget has shortcut settings, so you might be able to switch the same way as on Gnome (IDK, find out).
In recent years, Gnome learned a few tricks that made it less frustrating for me to use it, like multiple-tabs in the terminal, editor and file manager. In Plasma, this is so basic and old it’s almost not worth to be mentioned. In Konsole, you can even change the name of these tabs(double-click, and of course mouse wheel while over the tab also does what you’d expect…), and in Dolphin you can have a two-pane-view (midnight-commander-style) and have tabs on both sides. Ctrl+I filters inside a folder while unfortunately Ctrl-F always seems broken to me. No big deal, as I always have the embedded Konsole pane open, so I can just find & grep stuff. Or i could use KFind instead. The context menu in Dolphin offers many goodies, e.g. diff selected files. Or compress. Or unzip. Or… Kate has good syntax highlighting, sessions and lots of other goodies.
These apps, Dolphin, Kate, Konsole, are probably the main reason I prefer Plasma, because they are the tools I rely most on.
But it also just always amazed me just how complete the KDE application suite is (when I started, there was no Plasma). When I first used Amarok, it just was the most awesome player I had ever seen. K3B could easily replace Nero burning ROM. Marble, a Google-Earth clone? Sure, why not… Or, let’s just make our own productivity suite, including KOffice, vector drawing, paint, video editing… and so much more.
I like how complete it is, even though I use Inkscape and LibreOffice instead of what KDE offers