The Ubuntu 12.04 release is coming in 2012 and they are sticking with the Unity desktop for the forseeable future. I understand that the Gnome team are not working on the Gnome 2 desktop anymore and they have moved on to Gnome Shell and that the new interface is here to stay, but I wish they would program a Gnome 2 styled fall-back for Gnome3 that would work exactly like Gnome 2 and please those who do not like Gnome3. I am using the KDE 4.6 desktop 4.6.2 and I love it, as it uses a familiar Windows styled desktop environment. My computer only takes about a couple of seconds to boot if I use the suspend/sleep option to shut down my computer and then I press the power switch and it comes straight back up again and is ready for use. I really wish the Gnome 3 desktop in Fedora was like Unity though, it has a cleaner desktop, but the side bar is hidden until you move the mouse cursor to the top left of the screen. That is very annoying, Unity keeps the sidebar visible until maximise a window or move a window in the way of the sidebar. So I think that Unity is the lesser of two evils in regards to new desktop interfaces. The Gnome Shell desktop is very, very annoying.
Lxde in Fedora Core 15 is the fastest desktop to use though, but KDE has been around for a long time and with the classic styled Start menu enabled and icons on the desktop like KDE 3.5 it is actually not bad at all. I would recommend that Canonical not change the Ubuntu desktop again in 13.04 or 14.04 and just stay with Unity and work out all the bugs with that desktop. Porting over all the old Gnome 2 panel applets would be a good start. That is one thing that is very annoying to users of the new Ubuntu desktop. Once the code is improved the desktop will be very usable but for now Unity is incomplete and still needs a lot of work to compete with Gnome 2. You could just install Ubuntu 10.10 and have a fully functional Gnome 2 desktop and all the panel applets, but the security updates will not be around forever and then you would need to upgrade anyway. I just switched to the Gnome fall back desktop in Fedora 15 and the time shown in the centre of the top panel also shows the weather, so at least that is working. it is a nice and fast alternative to the Fedora 15 Gnome 3 environment. This is not exactly like Gnome 2, but it is better than the alternative.
There was a fork() planned and announced of the Gnome 2 source code tree to update the source code and keep it working and apparently there was a version available for Arch Linux but this project seems to have disappeared off the Internet for now. if such an enormous undertaking was actually in progress and a package repository was made available for Ubuntu users, then this would make a lot of people very happy. The GIT repository is here. This project is called the MATE Desktop Environment and is a fork of the source code of Gnome 2 to keep this fast and usable desktop environment alive. This is a very good thing and we must support this project any way we can to bring the good old Gnome 2 desktop back again. And freedom of choice to have Gnome 2, Unity, KDE, or LXde or Xfce is the best thing about using Linux. Dumping Gnome 2 for a new and unfamiliar desktop environment is the dumbest thing the Gnome team ever did, but hopefully we will get our desktop back. Here is to hoping.