About the graying out toolbox, dockers and elements not used when no 
image is open, I think it breaks a functionality that is already present 
in gimp: the ability to custumize the interface (moving dialogs to 
dockers, changing the dimensions and position of elements, etc.)
That's, imo, a regression. Having to open an image to be able to 
customize the interface adds an extra step that has no purpose.

The drop zone still makes me wonder. I can't avoid seeing it like the 
photoshop gray background. You say that gimmicks should be avoided but 
there is a button for the tip of the day at the bottom, wich apart of 
being some kind of gimmick, changes the morphology of the status bar.
I wonder why the drop zone can't be divided in two blocks, one with the 
tip of the day (with a switch to not sowing it again if selected) and 
the suggested drop zone. But that would imply to create a sort of 
splash, welcome screen that is not encouraged in the specification.
The empty drop zone without a label is no longer a gimmick, but now it's 
just an empty space, and again, if that window is resizeable and the 
toolboxes (even grayed out) have an always-on-top hint, it will look 
like the gray photoshop background where many of the users will suppose 
that image windows *should* be opened.
My question is if that really will improve the user experience, or 
people will still be crying for the same, even after the change.
Obviously, this specification at least removes the menu from the 
toolbox, wich is a great improvement.

In my honest oppinion, gimmicks aren't too evil. They help newcomers 
and, if they can't be de-activated, don't bug advanced users too much.
A couple of days ago I tried the MSN messenger clone "emesene". They 
used a very interesting idea for the UI customization.
There is a secition in the options where they placed a wireframe of the 
UI blocks wich can be turned on or off with a single click (there is a 
gray wireframe and the selected block is highlighted).
What about using that for the no-image window?
Change the empty window for a single window with construction blocks. 
Default would be "drop zone", "common tasks", "tip of the day". Very 
newbie friendly.
For advanced users, there could be a section in the prefs that allows to 
simply turn-off those blocks, and get an empty, no-gimmicks drop zone.
Blocks may be "pluggable", so it would be possible to add new blocks to 
customize the welcome window if it's needed. I can think of "recent 
images lists", "acquire/ batch acquire", etc.

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