"Windows' leaving of icons where they are put by the user isn't a 'basic functionality' of the OS GUI....it is simple indifference/inaction on the part of the GUI."
You've proven my point in one sentence. You have basically said: "First, allow users to move icons as they will." then any other enhancements, such as grid snapping behavior go ON TOP of that. This makes the user controlled placement the absolute foundation, it's true basic functionality.
True indifference or non functionality in such a circumstance would be the OS placing the icon, and not listening to user need. Not listening to the user is so horrific that no windows system is that way, to my knowledge. Amazingly, Fences is. It's actually a regression: "You can't put them where you want, but we do let you sort them in a few cool ways" is just not that impressive, especially at the cost of the core idea of making your desktop look how you want it.
Adding functionality by making additional smart sorts *available* should indeed be lauded. It's a good thing. But KILLING basic functionality in the process is the stupid part.
#1, it is not necessary to kill it.
#2, "User selected rules" from a limited list of selections, is a restraint. (ex: My rules are not available)
And no, the basic advantage of Fences is not "placing" icons. It is the GROUPING of icons, and creating a visual PORTHOLE to the group.
A porthole to a fully user defined placement of icons is VERY valuable.
A group of icons, stacked vertically, say, graphics applications: Photoshop, Modo, 3D Max, Corel, etc... To the RIGHT of EACH icon are support files for each application in the stack... like shortcuts to documentation... to web links for tutorials.... to a folder with current projects. These icons project *horizontally*. Now, you make a portal with Fences that expose only the applications themselves... a tall vertical strip, your apps laid out neatly.
Using a horizontal scroll bar, you can then slide over and see all of the *supporting* icons on that row... which you probably don't want to see all the time.
This is intelligent icon placement.
It's not available in Fences. IT thinks it knows BETTER.
The brilliance of that placement is supplied by the user. The brilliance of clearly grouping icons, and allowing a viewing porthole is supplied by Fences.
That's the power it *should* have. Adding a couple more sorting options to the ones windows already has... well, that's nice. Killing intelligent placement, that's not nice.