Indeed, for us who use computer as tool, solid interface that provides clear list of windows and switching between them is what's needed, no fancy graphics and animations.
Windows is a good example of this - Windows 7, and most likely Windows 8, too, supports everyway of configuring your window access and taskbar someone actually used on Windows _95_. That's 16 years from now. Windows 7 has lot of more options and features and has different default settings, but still, everything can be configured to work just like you have found the most efficient way for yourself in earlier versions.
And this is what Gnome project should have done. It's fine to remove the advantage of PC (over tablets) for users who prefer eye-candy over "just a tool", but it's not fine to make it *impossible* to use it like you did on earlier versions.
This is the reason the people I know who used to use Gnome 2.x now all use XFCE. Even with extensions Gnome 3 is just a quickly hacked demo when it comes to configurability.
To make a good, new, user interface you need a clue on what's the workflow for your user base. Just removing features is not how it's done; it's done by offering all the customizability _somewhere_ but prioritizing the user goals most needed to be easier to access than the rest.