You are very funny, really! Gnome did lost a lot of customizability these days, that's why Cinnamon and MATE happened.
Do you mean the new generation of users are going to be smarter? So you hate experienced users, I see. Do you have any idea what "productive" is in a computing environment? These days computer users are less skilled and more used to crappy software than before, they lack patience and knowledge to find suitable software for many tasks (unless they are a bit passionate about computers). And people aren't so used to waste HOURS finding those damn extensions in Gnome, it's way for more difficult to install them than in Firefox.
What's progressing at a faster pace? I see MANY projects migrating from GTK to Qt.
KDE had many really bad practices like releasing an UNSTABLE version as final software, (4.0) and I got lots of problems when using it on many systems I maintain. They also have stuff like nepomuk, that eats lots of I/O and can make the system unusable.
KDE is the lesser problem about Digia, maybe they get a bit of individual contributors and such. But their success is on propietary platforms and it's going to be that way for a lot of time.
What I see, both KDE and Gnome are inefficient and lack standarization in many ways (KIO vs GIO, kdewallet vs gnome-keyring, phonon vs gstreamer...). That's good for more lightweight and flexible competitors, like XFCE. The problem is that "complete" solutions are blind and only look to their own environment, and are quite bloated too. It's a shame to not see a lightweight competitor to Evince and Okular in XFCE, for example (there should be a proper framework to read documents and that code shared between major apps). I just hope Freedesktop.org effort gets stronger and standarize a lot more parts of the desktop ecosystem.