Tabs on top
That's always made more sense to me. The URL bar is part of the tab - it relates to the contents of the tab, not the overall environment - so that's where it belongs. I thought 28 did it the same way, but maybe I misremembered.
The inability to put the url bar where I want it
The inability to put the search box where I want it
Not sure where you want either of these, but I hit the customize button in the pop-up thing to the right of the toolbar and it lets me move them around. Weirdly, it doesn't let me move the URL bar by dragging it, but it does let me move things to the left and right of it, so it just goes in the remaining space.
The removal of the status bar.
Options menu, show status bar.
The fixing of navigation buttons so they cant be moved.
Which buttons? The back button is attached to the URL bar, but it was in 28 too. I always use keyboard shortcuts or gestures for back / forward, so I'd prefer they removed it entirely, but it's only taking up a small amount of space.
Overall - they took away the ability to customise a lot and it left my browser looking a hideous mess because their forced changes didn't work with my previous customisations.
The customise UI looked pretty clean to me and presumably add-ons can add other buttons and so on that will integrate with it.
I hated the suite because it saved memory by running the browser and Mail and News in the same process, sharing the XUL and XPCOM runtime. This meant that whenever the browser crashed (about once an hour) it would take out your mail and any unsaved drafts. I didn't notice Firefox being faster, but I did notice that when it crashed it no longer killed my mail client. That was a huge advantage.
I'd not used any Mozilla browser for a few years, but I recently switched to Firefox for Android on my phone. The UI is clean and it has plugins like Self Destructing Cookies that finally do cookie management in a sane way. Chrome on Android, in contrast, has a choice to delete all cookies, block all cookies, or accept all cookies. It doesn't expose a way of selectively deleting them. With Firefox and the Self Destructing Cookies plugin, tracking cookies are deleted early, other cookies stay as long as I'm actively using the site and, unless I explicitly opt for that site, deletes them as soon as I leave. I only log into a small number of sites, so I'm happy to have to press an extra button when I actually want it to remember me.
The US Government doesn't want, and doesn't buy the item that Walmart sells.
The problem is, sometimes they do. There are some situations where you need something with exactly known parts and quality that can be replaced with an identical one in ten years (guaranteed by the vendor) if required. There are some situations where you need something that works now and if you have to throw it away in 3 years, that's fine because your next upgrade cycle is in two years anyway. The government doesn't differentiate these in the procurement rules, so even when all you want is a generic white-box PC for a secretary's desk that will only ever run MS Word and a web browser for the intranet, you still go through almost the same procurement process as for parts for a stealth fighter and end up buying a machine from Dell that is guaranteed to have specific parts, at an increase in price that's more than just buying two or three identical machines from another vendor (or even from Dell's consumer lines) and throwing them away when they break.
I don't think it's quite that clear cut. When I worked as a consultant (I still do sometimes, but I'm mostly an academic these days), I wasn't paid except when I was doing work for my customers. Uber fills the same role for drivers as a recruitment agency does for consultants: they are not employing you, they're putting you in contact with customers in exchange for a cut of your fee. In the case of Uber, they are also handling the QA and payment processing.
In your shop analogy, it's more akin to a shop allowing non-employees to get a commission for sales. The shop wouldn't put them on the payroll, but would pay them a percentage for everything that they sold. This isn't common for shops, but happens in a lot of other sales. I only see a problem with it if the people working this way have a particularly bad deal and the employer has a sufficiently strong bargaining position that they can't get anything better.
split second loading, saving, editing and searching of large text files
Depends on the use. I'm increasingly using binary formats for things like CPU streamtraces, which can grow very quickly into the hundreds of MBs, and not using a text editor for exploring them. Source files tend to be a few KB, tens of KB if they're in dire need of refactoring, hundreds of KB if they're machine generated (and therefore rarely - but occasionally - hand-edited). As such, I don't mind my text editor having a size limitation too much. It does mean that I can't use it for everything, but most of what I edit is source code of one form or another (including LaTeX).
can log into any host via SSH and just use it
I do this a lot, but I really dislike the fact that I do it. SSH for text editing is an ugly hack to work around the fact that we still can't do file sharing well. I'd much prefer to use sshfs for the editing and only use SSH when I want to build / run code remotely. If Atom came with a nice file browser for remote files, I can imagine changing my workflow.
syntax highlighting and smart indenting
Definitely important. Vim can only do somewhat-smart indenting. Its APIs don't allow you to distinguish between indenting for semantic blocks and indenting for alignment. I like to format my code so that the reader can adjust the tab size without breaking the formatting, so, for example:
if (someLongCondition() &&
(Slashcode's 'code' tag seems to eat spaces and tabs and expand nbsp, so I've no idea how to actually do the indenting) Both lines would start with one tab (or more, depending on the current indent level), the second line would then have 4 spaces. The s and the a line up whatever tab width you want to view the code with. I generally prefer 4, lots of people prefer 8, and some prefer 2 and so this allows people to set whatever they want.
"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27