> In general my feeling is that something separate from GNOME
> is the way to go for true mainstream users...
I'd like to disagree. I admin a lab environment in a public library. It is running GNOME2. It works, the sort of general public you get in a rural public library setting use the machines with few problems. I get the occasional complaint when they can't install some Windows app, but no lab setting would allow that sort of thing even if it were Windows PCs. Everybody is basically happy.
I want you to imagine putting GNOME3 into that setting. Now I see one of two possible answers you can give:
1. Sure, that is a great idea. I'd disagree but ok we can disagree. Heck, if you or one of the current core gnome devs actually said that I might even be tempted to run the experiment and find out. It wouldn't be that hard to convert a couple of machines, put a 'try this, it's new!' sign on em and collect feedback.
2. Or you have my reaction, which is "Are you nuts?" At which point you might want to ask yourself whether that just might be a problem.
Every time GNOME3 comes up somebody says "sure it brought my work to a halt for a week|month|whatever but then I figured it out and now love it!" Just can't see telling that to random people off the street who just want to use a computer for an hour.
So we now have in GNOME3 a UI that while a few users like it, most existing users are (at best) indifferent to it and new users will be so confused by it that most won't ever find out if they like it.