If easier means different, how can you expect them to take the time to learn your new approach when they don't take the time to learn something as simple as Google search? Google search is just one huge text box in the middle of the display. It doesn't get much more straightforward. You type what you want to find and then sift through the results.
My mom is the biggest noob when it comes to computers. She doesn't see or expect buttons when she looks at a UI. My mom didn't grow up with GUI's for cable, video games, or computers like I did, but she has been practicing on her computer for the last year or two and is finally getting the hang of it just fine.
I think no matter what you do, a person not used to using computers isn't going to understand without first taking the time to learn the basics.
There is definitely room for improvement though, just don't target any particular age demographic. Someone will come up with something that will make web browsing easier and more efficient for everyone.
Even my own system I would like to be able to freeze. Firefox 3 seems to have gotten quite bad, for example occasionally it accidentally triggers the "change page direction" switch (which btw. seems like the most stupid option ever, this should be buried somewhere 100 layers deep, not top level).
Bad idea. No hint as to where and how to enter text. How is one supposed to come up with the idea to just start typing?
i've seen 7 years olds using it with incredible ease finding what they want
"and small children don't want the full web; they want to communicate and share pictures and look things up"
Shouldn't they call it simplified communication or simplified file sharing if thats what they mean? I think simplified browsing refers to something else.
Concerning communication, there are already some successful social networks just for children that prevent sharing of personal information.
"communicate and share pictures and look things up"
Also that phrase pretty much sums up the average usage of the internet for any age, not just children.