i would have to agree with the OP on a certain level. my one gripe with magento is that it seems to be trying to do way too much. hacking out superfluous ‘features’ would probably mean a nightmare to upgrade. maybe i just haven’t gotten it into my head yet that magento is aiming for an enterprise-level solution and thus probably needs to pack in a wallop.
i personally like tradingeye.com ‘s minimal approach much better. their demo at http://www.tradingeye-demo.com/ is plain (with very decent,clean displays throughout their css style switcher) and doesn’t force you to have to cut out and work backwards. at the same time, if you go through their docs, they follow a modern mvc approach as well. too bad their license costs an arm for a student like me but i lavish the day an open source solution similar to their setup is released. i think thats the type of e-commerce solution every day people *really* need. right now im expecting magento to fall into the wordpress world of everyone using default templates with minor changes simply because it will be too complicated for *most* people to actually alter minus a few navigation/header/footer changes (which so far has resulted in less than spectacular results as seen in the showoff forum).
http://ocbutcher.igentics.com/ is the only magento template i’ve seen so far that is keeping my faith here! the rest of the header/footer switcheroo attempts honestly make magento look cheap :(
of course, everything is still in such early stages and i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t checking this place constantly for new updates and the like. its exciting!