> But if that's the goal of GNOME developers, they should at least state that as their policy up front
This. Absolutely this.
I remember talking to an IT manager of a small California town experimenting with deploying Gnome 2 desktops (dunno which distro) to some regular city employees. It seemed to be going OK -- most people just needed to know how to open a browser, email, and PDFs, edit Word files, and print. He was able to get everyone productive again, and most didn't care that it wasn't Windows. They learn something once, then do it for a decade.
I can't imagine what Gnome 3 has done to his life.