Originally Posted by wbroun
I think it's almost impossible at this stage to generalize about "soft boots" in the first place, until you more clearly define what you're referring to...
To risk a pun, soft boots have surely left a small but real footprint in boot design history -- things will never be quite the same, even if speed laces, etc. eventually disappear.
There has never been a definition of "softboots". Strictly speaking, the only real softboot is that of Rossignol because they let the name patented. The label "soft" was used rather wildly by the industry and media. Some of the manufacturers contributed to the confusion in the desire to "sell" the concept accordingly and dramatically.
Under "normal" circumstances there would have been evolution resulting in stabilization of the term and the corresponding boots. Here, unfortunately, the softs practically disappeared before they could establish themselves.
I think you´re right saying that they had some impact on traditional "hard" boots although the latter would have gone through the changes aiming at more comfort, handling and softer forward flex anyway, maybe just not so fast.
To comment on some of the earlier posts, I don´t think softboots didn´t succeed because they were "different". The percentage of skiers using high performance top boots and "ideollogically" refusing anything not resembling race boots is relatively small.
The majority is often unhappy in uncomfortable, heavy and clumsy boots not resembling anything they know (sure, ski boots are no boots and "the boots are NOT made for walking", if you remember the old Nancy Sinatra´s song).
A lot of people would be eager to use something more user friendly, lighter, more walkable, warmer, etc. etc. - but the softboots simply didn´t live up to the high expectations based on suggestive promises.