With the basic tools in place I installed the VMware extensions which allowed for seamless integration of the virtual desktop with the host's desktop. As usual I also added google-chrome-stable to pick up Google Chrome 19.
As you can see above the desktop framework has plenty of 3D styled effects and eye candy. To counter-balance this I installed the white wallpaper you see in the first screen shot. So far the guts under the desktop environment match what's under the Gnome desktop environment (of course), so it looks like I'll be learning to live with KDE again. I think the rest of the lab crew can learn to love KDE 4 as well.