Agree - when you aim for strapless only, no doubt at all - start strapless
We (my friends around here and I) recommend all NEW to surfboards and directionals, to start strapless.
Because it is a must, in order to learn to balance and "feel" the board and learn to use the edges and pressure
It is also way easier to learn to jibe and tack, strapless
Later, when they have got it reasonably right, they can advance to strapped if they want, or continue strapless if that is preferred
In the case of experienced small board directional surfers (surfing or wave windsurfing), it does not matter if starting strapped or strapless - as they have full knowledge of how to utilize a board correct, and just need to get their individual board(s) dialed in.
So starting with the style they believe will be "their" dominant style (strapped OR strapless), is perfect then.
Most ride strapped around here, because of conditions, and because many find it gives more freedom and options (more powerful tail slides f.ex and generally more speed/power and air tricks).
Others choose strapless because they want more challenge as even simple things becomes more difficult (360's), and some also choose it because they feel more free without straps. Cool.
But then some does it, only because of all the "fuzz" some talks about (which is a shame...)
So both "camps" say they do it because of more "freedom":
Strapless because they feel locked with straps physically on their feet, limiting their foot stance.
Strapped because they feel locked strapless physically as it is limiting their board movement/action/speed - freedom.
The ex/or surfers and ex/or windsurfers start with what they believe in, no matter what it is.
Those not used to directionals, sometimes start strapped thinking (wrongly) that it is easier - and because they see most are using straps.
This is really bad - as they get no feel for the board, thus they ride with very bad technique - AND they got absolutely no clue where straps should be put, in order to work perfectly and free
So they are just hanging on to their board through the straps and use them as crutches as you called it - REALLY bad start
Where it should be an elongation of the board - where the straps are positioned just right so you can stand fully free and right anytime - AND then use the extra dimension they give you for airs and slides and speed
The latter will never happen if you dont learn to ride strapless first IMO (or have YEARS of hardcore experience, which can do the same)
Both styles ROCK
Some do both - according to what they feel for and/or conditions, but most have one they prefer over the other, and then again many choose one OR another style.