I switched to Unity because of some aspects I perceived to be limitations in Shell, but I don't think Shell deserves much of the criticism it gets, either - all I'm going to say on that.
I do think that the Register article is connecting dots that don't connect. Gnome Shell is a result of the same forces that drove Windows to the tile UI - mobile and web interfaces showed people that there were other ways of arranging things, and it was suddenly possible to get bored with the usual taskbar and menu arrangement. (Gnome has some direct influences from those mobile and web interfaces - superficially, it looks a hell of a lot like iOS - but even that seems secondary to the general influence of "something different.") Gnome didn't stop looking like Windows when Microsoft pitched its patent fit, while KDE looked like Windows 7 long before Windows 7 did, and it still does. But there is a push to not look like Windows, and it hit Gnome scarcely before it hit Windows itself.
MadmanRB, I'm glad to see that you're acknowledging that there are some good desktops that don't look and work like Windows, although Unity and OSX are certainly still "traditional" in their way of handling the desktop metaphor (but I won't claim that that's necessarily a bad thing.) I have to say that I really do like the fact that Unity is taking pains to keep its touch and keyboard / mouse interfaces separate. I do have to wonder to what extent Unity was built on the idea of "not Windows" (and there's some emulation of OSX in there, of course, too.)