The Unity desktop environment is the future, although it will take getting used to a new way of doing things. Currently I have Reveal Mode set to “None” while auto hiding the Unity launcher (Alt + F2 ==> about:config.) This will disable auto reveal with mouse hover. The Unity launcher can be summoned by the Super (Windows) key. Hitting & holding the Super key results in a numbered corresponding tab which then launches the desired operation instantly, all without the mouse. A short tap will launch Unity Search.
I could fall back to XFCE, but I have decided to run the full fat Ubuntu experience on my tower. As far as Ubuntu is concerned, all future development will be poured into Unity, though Gnome Shell is an option I have yet to try.
I still have Cairo Dock (Mac clone eye candy launcher) but maybe it’s days are numbered?