> as for how many people use Gnome 3: only one major distribution has been shipping with Gnome 3
I lived through GNOME 1 -> 2 transition.
I don't think I will make it through the 2 -> 3 transition.
This time around the GNOME project has made it's clear that people like me are not part of the desired user base and functionality important to me is no where near a priority. Fair enough, it's their choice.
On the next round of distro updates, the big two, which I have used for a long time, are now pushing completely new and less functional desktop shells.
I'll be looking for a new distro with a shell that offers functionality comparable to the now dead GNOME 2.
My point is that waiting for major distros to ship GNOME 3 may not increase the userbase that much - it's bad enough to cause users to flee to other distros.
It'll be interested to see how many other users take the same approach.