I admire your stand on standards. I'm the same way, if something is done in a particular manner I then expect to use that learned standard for the rest of the subject, task, etc. However, standards are only a part of the total. Logic, efficiency and what "feels" natural comes into play as well. By reading your posts I can tell you are well versed with Mac history and it's UI logic, I therefore assume that you know how the Mac UI came to be. Yes, I'm talking about the desktop metaphor.
Fast forward to today. The desktop has become more of an office than a desktop - this desk is way too cluttered, too many apps with too many windows open all over the place. But nonetheless let's look at it as a desktop. Now, you have piles of paper all over your desk. Most likely you have them organized in some manner, but because you have too many categories you have them piled up on top on top of each other. When you want to do work on a certain category you "naturally" grab the entire pile for that category. Do you want any file from this category lost in with the others? No, you don't, so you keep it separate from the others. (Example: Preferences Window) Yes, sometimes you do need to grab a file out from it's category so you can use it with a file from a different category.
My point is this. There's no perfect solution, however, any reduction to the number of windows you have open is surely the best. The use of Tabs is a good solution when implemented properly. When I'm browsing the web I don't really need windows opening on top of each other. With some other app I might need to have windows opening separately (example: Photoshop), but not for browsing the Internet. It's more efficient to have a visual identification of what windows I have open and what order they where opened in (a new tab is always created to the right). It's more natural to use tabs in this fashion then not. Why? Because when I'm working with files in the real world, I usually tab between them. I don't refer to a list (menu bar) to find the file nor do I open up a drawer (Dock) to get it. It's an annoyance when I need to move the browser's window aside to refer some other apps file and finding another window from the browser in my way (see real world example above: move a pile from a category to get something else from another) . Even with apps whose work type requires separate windows like Photoshop, it would be beneficial to have a tab implementation of some sort giving a visual reference to open files so as to easily switch between each. Yes, it's great that I can do it via the Dock, but via the app itself is more efficient for when my mind is on the app. It feels unnatural to go to the Dock for this. The Doc is a place I go to get other files or other apps that I'm not currently working with.
Yes, yes, yes, standards are a good thing, but there is no reason why we can't have standards within each app, the app itself has a standard within itself. Look at the iTunes's UI, it behaves different than any other app, I see no one complaining, why? Because it feels natural and it works perfect for what it needs to do.