Then again, many people are very good at being dramatic pessimists... If a feature they happen to use is changed, the whole new design is deemed an absolute fiasco.
I'm not trying to dismiss the true criticisms but I do want to give a counter point: I'm using gnome-shell from jhbuild and while there are lots of things to improve, I'm not missing any major functions and I really like the general direction it's going. I admit my needs in this area are very simple, but I'm still a data point, right?
Desktop environments are complex beasts and people are bound to invent really different ways of using them. This means that the developers need to be careful when changing things: they may break usage patterns they didn't even know existed. The other side of the coin is this: progress is only possible by breaking things a little (because users do the weirdest things). Some people will always be disturbed, that's inevitable and we should accept that -- as long as the group or the disturbance is small enough.
tl;dr: Let's not call things "fiascos" before properly testing.