Yes, Chris, I agree, and reading my earlier comments I think I am blurring the ideas of "simplified" and "user friendly", sorry about that.
On one hand, is Moodle really generating a new level of "terror by choice"? We are learning from so many studies now that if we, people, have too much choice, we either don't make a choice or we chose inappropriately. So perhaps are we getting out of hand with the number of plugins and options available?
For me, on the other hand, the concept of simplified is more about using buttons and drop down menus rather than a cluttered block structure. I understand the docking bay is a step in that direction, but most people are now used to having a menu bar across the top of the screen in their working pages, the landing pages are different, but working pages have very little on them. I suggest this is a continuation of the original text editing process, then word processing. They originally informed people's expectations when writing things, basically a blank screen with toolbars across the top. Yes, technology has changed, screens have gotten better, wider, for sure, but people's expectations are not moving as rapidly as the technology.
We expect to see things cluttering up the screen when using Excel, or Photoshop but look at any text editor, and there is not a lot on the screen. I still suggest that Moodle needs to get away from the three column Post-Nuke look. If blocks are to appear onscreen, then why not use the same approach as Adobe and put everything on the right for left-side readers and on the left for right-side readers? The tabbing blocks of Photoshop or dockable, nested menus of Acrobat are a neat, tidy solution, which Moodle is actually using, why not formalise it and make it a Moodle Standard? The only thing is that this would be a long term theme project which would take many versions to get right, I would think.
I have a wide screen monitor, and I set this forum up using the "flat replies and oldest first" option and I can read it in a 2 column approach, just as described above. OK, blocks scroll with the page, but I know enough about HTML5 to know this is only because the right hand column is set to the top of the page, not the screen. Why can't all Moodle's pages, even the landing page be set like that? And right now, I am wishing I had been more creative and really tried to learn how to write themes years ago instead of giving it away when I changed jobs, so I could show you what I really mean. Crystal ball really failed me here....