Gnome Shell not for tablets
I keep reading the constant rehash that Gnome Shell is a tablet interface. Rubbish. Gnome Shell is way too mouse centric. A tablet shell could be created, and that is what Gnome 3.x is all about. A framework that can be made into anything. Some people see the way it works, that is why we have Cinnamon. Cinnamon for Gnome 2.x die-hards. Cinnamon is just an alternate shell for Gnome 3. Others can be created, it only takes imagination and you have your own DE. Cinnamon is only about 4mb of packages. You can use extensions to bend Gnome Shell in all sorts of ways. If you look at http://extensions.gnome.org you find an ever growing list of extensions for all sorts of gizmos and gadgets and UI changes.
You can guess that I use Gnome 3.4. I have a selection of extensions to make my desktop the way I like it. With Gnome Tweak Tool and a few extensions you can make a DE that mimics Gnome 2.x, if that is your want. But, you have to take the time to learn how it works, try things out, change it again, then settle on your creation. "But, I should not have to do all that just to make it work" - funnily enough most of us who use 3.4 like the default more than 2.x. Then fiddle with it to make it a bit different.
How to make Gnome Shell act like Gnome 2.x
Install Gnome Tweak Tool and use it to have the file manager control the desktop - then spread your icons everywhere (shudder!)
Window List Extension
Hot Corn Dog
User Themes - manually copy the themes into ~/.themes
Frippery Move Clock
That is a good start point, you would end up with one toolbar along the top, a traditional menu (but more like the Mint Menu), a task switcher, and shut down as a default item. And a traditional desktop.
"But, I should not have to do all that just to make it work" - easier than installing Mate and you have all the latest versions of Gnome libs and programs.
Embrace the future or not, it is up to you
Off soapbox for now.