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I loved the Lisa screenshots some time ago, they showed how the desktop indeed hasn't changed since 1985... And I really miss the ambition at Gnome.
What's the point of completely changing the desktop when you can't even use WiFi without hassle?
And by the way, desktop experimentation is not something you'll see on an official GNOME release, but rather on related projects like Gimmie, Avant, Sugar, etc.
A big difference between GNOME and KDE is that these experiments are done in parallel in GNOME. For example, the KDE panel is pretty much dead, with "Plasma" set to replace it. But people still have no idea what Plasma will look like and whether it will work (and they won't know until they test it on real people).
On the other hand, the GNOME project will only decide to replace its panel (which has problems, but works) with something else after a new candidate has seen testing. That's how metacity replaced sawfish in GNOME 2.2, for example. And there are people working on ambitious new ideas, as I mentioned above (the GNOME-based "Sugar" UI is definitely the most ambitious one today).
KDE 4 is very broken today (is pre-alpha the official definition?). GNOME will most likely never be in that state again.