I was originally a member of the "What do they think they're doing" club, but after forcing myself to use Unity for a while (and give it a chance) I find that I absolutely cannot go back to "Classic"....
GNOME say the reason for the change to Gnome 3 is the Gnome 2.xx code base was becoming unmanageable... I take this to mean (like any other software) that it has been patched so much that keeping track of what any new additions will do was becoming difficult, and the code was becoming bloated ?
So (like any other software) it needed a "from scratch" rewrite... so what were their options.
1) rewrite it pretty much as is, but cleaner, which would probably be seen as a whole lot of work to stand still, and would no doubt still annoy people because there would be no guarantee that plugins etc. would work without a rewrite.
2) go for something completely new, probably incorporating things they would have *liked* to include in 2.xx but were unable... yes it would annoy some in the short term, and mean a re-write of all the plugins etc. but would (in the medium term) no doubt free up some of the devs who were having to spend a lot of time working round patches to the 2.xx code just to get new thing to work.
I seriously doubt the GNOME team didn't have a good reason for a rewrite, and only wanted a new look, or they'de have stopped at "Gnome Shell"... an unmanageable 2.xx code base seems like a valid reason to me
Asking them to support 2.xx as well as 3 would slow development even further... Gnome 3 is here to stay, and 2.xx is dead... get used to it, and give it time to mature. I have no doubt it will become everything 2.xx was and more, but will take a while, whilst third party devs adapt to it and start bringing out a raft of plugins (which may or may not include plugins that make it behave more like 2.xx).
And then there's Unity which was developed for *exactly* the same reason, Gnome 2.xx reaching 'end of life' so needing a replacement.....
The argument that it will put a lot of Windows users off switching is IMHO a non-starter... who cares, they'll switch if/when they're ready, and have always used that argument anyway... doesn't stop them switching to a Mac (who's interface is closer to Unity than to Gnome 2.xx).
Come on, the changes introduced in the Unity interface aren't *that* drastic, certainly no more drastic that XP --> Vista/Win7.
I say "Give them a chance"... if a "dinosaur" like me can change his mind.....