I've never understood the Gnome hype to begin with.
I did like the fact that FOSS has two large desktop kits competing each other - that is a neat luxury - but the hype about Gnome I couldn't understand. The only thing Gnome really had going for it, compared to KDE or generic custom WM setups like a WindowMaker environment, in my opinion, was that you could, back then in 2001, with a litte work, get your desktop look totally different and awesome compared to anything else on the planet. But that was a large part to the relatively hassle-free GTK theming, and not on behalf of Gnome. And the people who did that usually did it using Enlightenment as their main environment as the way better choice anyway. And even without E, in my opinion WM or some default Fluxbox setup allways looks better than a bland and somewhat half-assed Gnome UI.
For the better part of the last decade Nautilus was flaky software in beta stage compared to KDEs Konqueror. Konqueror would kick Nautiluses ass up and down the street in terms of features and usability. It was the best FM on the entire plantet, and probably still is ... although I haven't been keeping up with all the details, changes and redos in the FOSS Desktop world since about 2006 so I couldn't really say. FOSS developers have a tendency to break things just to redo entire core-pieces of code or come up with new projects. ... What was that FM thing for KDE a few years back? Dolphin or something? ... Dunno, didn't care. I just remember thinking: "Oh, great, some guy fucking up Konqueror and thinking he can do better than about a decade of FM projekt work. Great." ...
Anyway, I am now using Gnome (2.something) on debian stable because it is the default and it's still way better than windows, but it does bug me with shit I'd expect not to have to put up with in 2012. The Filemanager (still nautilus? couldn't tell) wets its pants when accessing a dir across samba with the svn extension blocking the FM for minutes. Firefox has rendering errors in the tabs, and while the desktop pager works as expected, as far as I can tell it looks very much the same as it did eleven years ago in 2001. And even then E and WM had pagers at least as good, and you could run and customize them with a few lines of easy configging.
With KDE its a simular thing, althoug I'd say they did (and do) way better with the integrated desktop thing. KDE allways had Windows-style performance hog qualities, but they *did* offer the full Desktop experience. I'd bet that to this very day a well configured KDE is the best GUI on the planet, on a machine that can handle the workload. And yes, I know the Mac, I'm typing this on an MB Air with Snow Leopard. However, it wasn't that the KDE team hadn't also been smoking their share of crack while coding. Some dimwhit back in the 90ies had the brilliant Idea to copy the entire Windows KB shortcuts and make them KDE default, thus fucking with the entire userbase of opinion leaders that actually cared about them: The core FOSS unix crowd. As far as I know it has been that way since then. Granted, rare things are as easy to config as KB shortcuts in KDE, but come on! That's, in my book, at least as bad a markting move as Gnome is doing now with v3. Allthough I have to say that ever since Gnome v3 came about posts about gnome on slashdot have at least trippled. ... Maybe not so bad marketing after all. Gnome is refreshing its mindshare with its moves, that's for sure.
Whatever way you put it, the real anoyances with Linux on the desktop are still the same they were 15 years ago when I started using it, and they have nothing to do with wether the Gnome (or any other desktop or WM) crew has decided to make a paradigm shift or not.
I've seen the screens of Gnome 3, I've installed the newest Ubuntu with Unity on a netbook for my daughter (yes, yes, odd and dumbed down, but it's not the end of the world there are some neat ideas in Unity and the Terminal works as expected. Imagine: I've used Unity and live!) and while there is quite a few things I'd fix before fiddling with new UI concepts, if Gnome thinks they'd rather redo their boring old stacked window UI, power to them.
If I in the future should set up a private Linux workstation I'll probably give E17 a shot. After all, it's been about a decade of work on it, that has to be worth something. Aside from that WM and Fluxbox are still very neat WMs and awesome WM looks very interesting aswell.
Its FOSS people, it's not that there aren't enough choices.
My 2 cents.