The Authors description of Gnome-shell is not terribly accurate.
> Down the left hand edge of the screen is a "favourites bar" to which you can add your most-often-used programs.
More or less.
> A faint background glow shows if an app is running, but not how many windows; it's not really meant for switching between programs.
It's meant for switching between entire programs. When you launch a application it placed a new icon in that. So when you click on the icon for the application it brings it forward.
What it's not meant for is switching between windows. When you choose it it will choose the last used window of that application, if you have multiple windows open.
> This is a keyboard operation – Alt-tab still works, and Alt-` (the key directly above tab) to switch between documents.
Alt-tab switches between programs.
Alt-~ switches between windows in the current program.
Also you can use Alt-tab in combination with arrow keys to select specific windows.
> The developers seemed to envision that the way to keep apps separate would be to put them on different virtual desktops. A virtual-desktop-switcher bar occupies the right edge of the primary screen, and there's an indefinite number of virtual desktops available – always one more than you're using.
On Gnome 3.2 it hides this bar if you are not using multiple desktops. The multiple desktop thing has always confused some users so if you don't use it you don't see it.
> The only way to navigate between windows with the mouse is an overall, Apple Exposé-like thumbnail view. So, if you have lots of windows, all on your first virtual desktop, the overview will be indistinct.
More or less.
Unlike Windows, Gnome never really had the ability to group a bunch of related windows together in the task bar (or whatever) when you had a lot of them open. So no matter what if you had lots of windows open on a single desktop it was always going to be mess.
If you wanted to keep things organized you have to take advantage of multiple desktops. This really hasn't changed from Gnome 2 to Gnome 3.
> The old hierarchical application menus have been replaced with a full-screen search-driven app-picker. Even windows' minimise or maximise buttons are gone.
There are three application 'menus' or 'pickers':
1. Hierarchical (applications are grouped by function in the traditional-like gnome app menu system)
2. Grid display
If you are keyboard centric person the search is the most useful. As you the search is always in focus when you switch to the 'activities' view. You can simply start typing and open the application, or grab it's windows.
<hit windows key>
It will pull up firefox or launch it, depending if you have it launched already.
the ctrl- button will modify the behavior to 'launch new window' rather then pull up existing windows.
<hit windows key>
Will launch a new window.
It's a departure from existing WIMP metaphores for managing applications and Windows and it's not intiutive as OS X. But it's a quick flowing user interface and very keyboard friendly once you spend a couple weeks using it. Lots of potential.