Aside that the '80s was a long time ago (2000s would be more accurate), I have the same "feeling" but cannot put my finger exactly on what causes this.
E16 settings widgets? (I've got a leery eye on those)
It might be interesting to start a new thread on the subject.
That way we might catch some points that can be changed to enhance/morph/theme E16 into a more modern one.
Or at least make it apparent that E16 and E23 are related and viable options to one another on an equal level.
Now that you mention it , I cannot put my finger on it either. E16 just works out of the box. Most things are predictable while E23 is unpredicatable. You cannot explain certain occurances, like how the dialogue boxes( do they still call it that) for settings seem compacted together so that you cannot reach some options. There is no means to expand them except scroll. Despite all this, E23 feels futuristic , may be it is just a psychological mind set . I will look again.
In the meantime , just wondering what if i uninstall network manager , would nmtui still be able to manage my wireless connectivity alone? NM seems to interfere alot