I have been running a release candidate version of Ubuntu 9.04 on a laptop for a few months now, and it has given me confidence that the latest version of Ubuntu will be good to install on the desktop.
Several of the nagging annoyances that caused me to bypass Ubuntu 8.10 now appear to be fixed. Namely the
tsclient locks screen issue and the Network-Manager PPTP VPN Client being flaky/unuseable. Both of these caused me issues because I admin a Windows Network and required them to be solid.
There is now a really cool notification pop-up system that let’s you see feedback from many of the applications running. If you have Ubuntu 9.04 installed you only have to unplug your network cable, or adjust your sound volume using the keyboard buttons to see it in action.
Other than that I Googled to make sure you can install VMWare Server 2.0 and it appears to be a goer aswell. (I will confirm that with a post when I personally install it).
Another big plus is OpenOffice 3.0 which loads quicker than the 2.4 series and has major work on the UI to make it more comfortable to use for ex Microsoft Office users.