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Vi is unfriendly but emacs is large, bloated some say, with loads of features. I'd say use emacs if you can't be bothered to learn vi, but vi is small and efficient. Don't know about pico, never used it.
I don't know how you can say emacs is user friendly. Both emacs and vi are very different from things like pico and notepad. I guess emacs has menus.
I use vi because I *hate* using meta keys. For me, continuously pressing CTRL-key combinations is slow and uncomfortable. vi is fast and if you spend a few days looking at a cheat sheet you'll pick it up quickly. Of course emacs can emulate vi keybindings.
This is a religious war. Check google groups for a few thousand opinions on the topic.
I prefer emacs myself (as does esr). As for bloat, I just fired up gvim and vim and compared memory usage with emacs, using top. Emacs (which has been running for days with several buffers open) is using about 10 MB. Gvim (freshly started, not editing anything) uses 5MB and vim uses 3MB. The differences are insignificant on my 2 year old hardware. Mozilla uses 54 MB, for comparison. Maybe it would have mattered back in '92, but not now.
I've been reading this for days (years?) and I finally got to that part. Still in the middle, chasing one of his indirect links. As someone who has a strange fascination with DOS's EDLIN, and, thus, ed, I figured I'd pass this on for any who may not have seen it.