I see very, very few places where Xfce does not equal Gnome 2 in functionality, especially as you can use Gnome 2 applets in Xfce4. Nothing short of stubbornness is needed to deny that- it’s also quite insanely light on resources. I’d say it’s a perfect match for Gnome users, if they can get their heads around using Thunar. I don’t expect we’ll see a change like this for a very long time to come- KDE 5 may be the soonest, and I’m sure it’s years off.
Exactly. I have been using Xfce for about 6 years now and I have never looked back once to “heavyweight” desktops (both in terms of popularity and resource usage).
That’s the great thing about open-source. Gnome bothers, move to Xfce/LXDE. Xfce/LXDE bother, move to IceWM,FVWM. You’ve tried out everything and everything bothers, you’re probably geek enough to improve things the way you like.
On the other extreme, it’s ridiculous seeing people switch their whole distributions just because of default desktop environments.