This is going to sound odd, but I really prefer D&D when you as a player have few to no choices about how your character developed. This, to me, was the really big bad of the post 3e D&D age. And I kind of worry that many people are so accustomed to this idea that D&D as a property can't pull back from it. Though I do have high hopes for Next.
In my opinion, players simply do not need a lot of choice related to the game mechanics of what their character does. And the more they are given the worse it is, mainly because it seems impossible to implement. As the amount of choice increases, one of two things happens: 1) you fail to make all choices equally valid (the trap choices of 3e, the essentially mandatory +to hit feats in 4e); or 2) all choices are so inconsequential or similar as to be meaningless (the majority of 4e falls into this category). 1 is bad all around, and 2 is the same as providing no choice, but with a lot more paperwork. I really prefer to create my character at character creation and know from day one that there is a specific path laid out that is playtested, balanced, and ready to go.
A few, big, significant choices can make things more exciting and go a long way to prevent characters from becoming carbon copies of one another; think of things like Specialist Mages across the editions, Kits in 2e, Cleric Domains in 3e, or Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies in 4e. These are major choices that matter and shape your character, but that also put you specifically into something that is well defined and that you know ahead of time works. Contrast that to picking minor, samey feats every two levels (most of my players in 4e quite literally forget about half of their feats every gaming session and it makes for absolutely no difference) and the later just comes off as petty busy work. There is this sweet spot that comes early in the economy of choice and often tabletop games seem to blow right past it.
This is one of the reasons I like Basic so much: 36 levels of advancement and you know right from day one where it's going to take you with a few, key choices along the way: alignment, what you do at name level, what path to immortality you follow, etc. And these are hard choices not because you have to pick out the one best or non-broken path, but because all of them are equally good and appealing. I find that when you get your players focusing less on making lots of little choices about what their character can do mechanically they get a lot more focused on what their character does in the game (not to mention making the choices that they do have a lot more appealing and meaningful to them).
Plus, and this bit is highly subjective: it jives better with my notion of fantasy from the fantasy fiction I read. Gandalf has potent fire magic not because he took a feat last level up and woke up better, but because he was gifted the Ring Narya. Characters like Conan and John Carter have comfortable, archetypal sets of abilities and powers that don't tend to change without some significant in-story explanation and even then only a few times across their entire run. Or to use a modern example: Harry Dresden. He gets personally more powerful in his core class of wizard with all the crazy oddities and strange abilities coming from the creatures he has interacted with and the magical artifacts he acquires (all of which come with big choices and consequence). It's not like he just pops back in the next book going: Oh, I can totally get a +2 bonus to all radiance and fire damage. Took it when I leveled up during downtime. In short I guess I just like the idea that you make these big choices at character creation (and maybe a few critical junctures thereafter) and what changes your character over the course of a campaign are the significant events over the course of your campaign rather than this pseudo-detached system of quantized extra choices.