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I suspect you haven't tried Xfce in a while. While the Xfce 3 series was very much a clone of CDE, the 4 series has been rewritten from the ground up, and has sort of gone its own way. I use Xfce regularly, and notice very few similarities with CDE.
It is also not fair to call it a lightweight Gnome-clone, because it is so incredibly configurable. I used it for a long time with no panels whatsoever, due to the highly functional middle-click desktop-and-application switching feature. But in any case, it is very simple to change it to a basic Windows/Gnomish start/quicklaunch/taskbar/notification/clock configuration.