Today I decided to conduct an experiment. I wanted to investigate whether or not I'm happy with Phoenix's default preferences and if I wasn't, what I would change. For this experiment I would create a brand new profile and attempt to work for the fist half of the day without making a single preferences change. Then, after using the unconfigured app for about 4 hours, I'd see how many changes I had to make to the preferences to get them "just right". My expectation was that I would absolutely hate the fist half of the day and that I'd be changing a lot of stuff around in the afternoon. I am, afterall, a power-user :-)
Well, it's the end of the day and I've been faithfully recording every instance where I cursed the Phoenix default setting and then all of the changes I made to the browser preferences to get it "just right". The results were interesting.
The only thing that really bothered me and the only setting I changed was to make the start page blank rather than that mozilla.org web page. I didn't change a single other preference.
I did make a couple of changes to the toolbars and I changed the size of the browser window to be larger. I bookmarked a couple dozen of my regularly visited sites, adding a handful to the bookmarks toolbar. I also installed a couple of mycroft search plugins and the tinderstatus extension and now the browser feels "just right" to me. But I only had to change one item in the preferences manager.
Had the option not been there to change the start page, I think I would have been pretty peeved and if I wasn't able to find some way to change it, strange as it might sound, that might have been enough to make me consider moving to another brower.
I think this is what a lot of the Mozilla and Phoenix preferences and features debate boils down to. No one person needs the 1,000 or so preferences that Mozilla or Phoenix could expose in the UI. But if the one setting he do need isn't there, it matters a lot.
I've got a few paragraphs of additional thoughs on "the preferences problem" but I want to think about it some more before I post. I'll leave you with this question. If you could only have one preference in your browser, what would it be?