In the spirit of generating more intelligent discussion, I’ll go beyond what was (admittedly) a quick dismissal of soft boots and go a little further into the reasons that the soft boots have not caught on.
I’m not sure that there is a misconception at all about their “softness.” As skidad55 correctly observes, the softness everyone is talking about concerns boot flex, not the actual material on the outside of the boot. Generally, on this forum and elsewhere, when someone says that a boot is “soft” or “stiff” they are referring to how much pressure must be put on the tongue of the boot to make it bend under your weight. If this can be done easily, then the boot is considered “soft,” and vice versa. To make a turn, you must flex the ski under your boot, and apply pressure to your edges. Practically, this can not be done until the skier has pressured the tongue of their boot to the point that instead of flexing farther forward, the boot transfers the pressure to the ski. Racers want their boots very stiff, because the boots do not flex much under their shins so the transfer of pressure from the boot to the ski is very fast allowing very quick turns. The problem with a boot that is that stiff, is that it transfers every pressure to the ski immediately, which is not desirable for skiers who are still learning as they need time to learn how to properly pressure their boots and skis and to develop the feel needed to precisely and consistently apply this pressure. If a learning skier had very stiff boots, their mistakes would be transferred to the skis as quickly as their correct motions, which will result in more falls. This is what people are talking about when they say that a boot is more or less “forgiving.” However, more forgiving is not always better; if a skier has a boot that is too soft, the delay between when they pressure the boot and flex the ski will be so long that it is difficult to make turns properly. Ideally all skiers would be in boots with a flex that is in accordance with their ability level.
The problem with the “soft boots” like the Rossi Soft and others, is that their flex too soft, which made them appropriate only for a very small segment of skiers. The flex of the soft boots is really only commensurate with the ability level of real beginners. By the time a skier can ski comfortably down blue square terrain, they will have already outgrown the flex of the soft boot and require equipment that is more responsive to their input. Skidad55, when you mentioned the cost of the boots, you hit one of the big problems right on the head. Beginner skiers are not going to pay $500 for boots that they will outgrow by the end of the season. You may like those soft boots, and they can certainly be skied adequately in the hands of a skier who has progressed beyond the beginner level, however that would not be ideal, and if someone is looking for new boots, they should not be spending their money on something that is less than ideal. If soft boots were very inexpensive, they would make a lot of sense, as a beginner skier could purchase their own pair to learn on, instead of renting every trip to the mountain. Since boots are the single most important piece of skiing equipment, having their own pair would facilitate a beginner’s learning curve, however, the cost would have to be very low to be practical. By the time a skier has skied enough so that it makes financial sense to purchase ski equipment rather than rent it, they have probably skied enough to have progressed past the point of the soft boot.
I apologize for the essay, but I thought it was necessary to give an adequate explanation of why the soft boots didn’t catch on, and why you don’t see them around much anymore.