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I use Gnome 3.x with Fedora 16 on my netbook and it's OK. You can control most with the keyboard like switching workspaces (which are created on demand), closing windows or opening this search/start applications (similar to KDE netbook).
However, KDE has the option to set kwin as a tiling window manager, which I totally miss in Gnome and is essential on netbooks with a small display. I hate using that tiny touchpad or always carry a mouse with me.
So, when does Gnome come up with tiling?
//edit: or at least automatically start every application maximized?
Did they fix these fundamental issues? No? Then it is still a big fail.
Gnome developers should take a look at this and this and this reviews.
Shell is a paradigm switch - I think it's for the better, but if you disagree there's a load of conventional options out there. Personally I don't see any of those as fundamental issues, but hey - I only work with Shell as my desktop, what do I know. Also: I can't think of anything worse than the idea of a unity launcher in Shell. The whole idea of Shell is that it gets out of the way so I can focus on the application (granted, they can still improve on this).
You live in the past. But extensions will help you.
Most likely Gnome developers live in a different distorted dimmension from the rest or the world. Worse they believe they can fold space and time and bring the world into their dimmension. Thankfully that won't happen. They have not power to influence UI paradigms.