I still think you’re confusing Gnome 3 and the Gnome shell … all you have to do for (pretty much) a Gnome 2.x style desktop is switch shell to “Gnome (Classic)” at the login screen.
Granted Gnome (Classic) … aka. gnome-session-fallback … isn’t quite as configurable as Gnome 2.x YET, but it is becoming so … effectively Cinnamon is gnome-session-fallback with a few custom extensions.
Gnome.org didn’t do everything in Gnome 2.x either … a LOT of the customisability and functionality came from third party plugins … there’s no difference with Gnome 3 other than it’s younger, so the third parties are still building the plugins, but the ARE appearing/improving.
Gnome are NOT forcing you to stick with the default shell in Gnome 3, any more than they did with Gnome 2.x … IMHO, they’ve given you MORE OPTIONS.
According to Gnome, the Gnome 2.x code base had become too much of a tangled mess … so they started again … but have given you all the tools necessary to bend the desktop to your will … only Mint seem to have realised this and took up the challenge, granted they only seem to be changing it back into a Gnome 2.x alike, but that’s fine if that’s what they want to do … everyone else seems to have just run off without thinking or without waiting for third parties to improve it.
They even included gnome-session-fallback … and still people bitched … did people want Gnome 3 to be exactly the same as Gnome 2, or did they want improvements to the code … I repeat, if you don’t like the DEFAULT SHELL … change it … YOU CAN.
But please stop confusing the Gnome 3 “SHELL” with Gnome 3.
Ubuntu/Unity is a whole other question … they seem to be slowly making it harder to use anything other than Unity.
Gnome have given you a VERY customisable desktop … as they did with Gnome 2.x … their choice of default shell is subjective … but they WANT you to change it if you don’t like it.
As for your residential care home example …
Because of the compliance with the fundamentals of UI design they were able to use it without issue and I heard nothing but praise for the change.
What “fundamentals” ? … DOS jockeys hated/got lost in the GUI … Mac users hate/get lost in Windows, XP users hate//get lost in Vista, ex Amiganauts hate everything else should the UI have stopped at the command line ? … I would have thought the “fundamentals” in a GUI are mouse pointer, windows, icons, files, and folders … all still there in Gnome 3 … yet nobody’s bitching that even some of those “fundamentals” are slowly disappearing on other devices.
Also … 2 mouse clicks at the login screen, and you’re at the Gnome (Classic) desktop … not really that difficult ???
Yes, Gnome 2.x (by default) was closer to the “M$ Windows” GUI … but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier for a beginner … again subjective, and too early to know … and since when does the Linux desktop have to be a Windows clone, just to help Windows users ?
I’ve seen the car analogy used … “they wouldn’t suddenly change the steering wheel to pedals, etc.” … but the car industry did JUST THAT when they changed from a tiller for steering (and clutch/gears on a big lever on the side of the car) … IMHO Gnome 3 now comes with joy stick (by default), some will like it, others won’t, but the beauty of Gnome 3 is you can easily change from a tiller to a steering wheel to a joystick … or even add your own method of control (as Mint are doing) … how is that not an improvement ?
It’s NOT as though they said “you’re getting a joystick, like it or lump it”
It has divided the Linux community even more than proprietary blobs, flash, rpm vs deb or vi vs emacs.
So did KDE4 … for all of about ten minutes … no big deal … and IMHO far too easy to do
Not to mention, in the Linux world “division” usually just means more choice … yet I fail to see how Gnome 3 has divided anything, it’s NOT a fork of Gnome 2.x … Gnome 2.x is DEAD, and MATE will last about as long as the KDE3 forks did … no division at all.
If division = some like it, some don’t … isn’t EVERYTHING divided ?
I REALLY need to work on shortening my responses