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"These days, every additional setting the application has is a liability."

If we follow this thinking too far, we end up with a closed console like device, or Gnome 4 as parodied last April [1].

Surely there is a case for progressive revealing/enabling of advanced functions?

In the UK, the Blackberry phones are very popular with teenagers because of BBM. This desire to access BBM even extends to students carrying two phones, one an old blackberry handset on wifi and the other an iPhone or whatever. You will find small groups in corners at lunchtime exploring the features of the handsets. Experts will coach those who know less. If I could get that level of peer tutoring going in Maths, I'd have my OBE in the bag quite soon! Users can increase their knowledge provided the unfolding of extra features is managed.

[1] http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20120402

I don't think Gnome is a relevant example. They don't support adding functionality back that they've taken out, whereas Firefox users are encouraged to add all the functions they want via extensions.

The downside of progressive functions in the base install is that the core Firefox team would have to support all the functions.

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