One of the basic differences between computers and older technologies is that a computer can remember how you like things to work.
And while we're at it, why do my bank's ATMs keep asking me if I prefer English? I already told them once - do they think I might change my mind? Would an ATM really be the ideal place for me to practice learning a second language?
Something with preferences is customizable: it's yours. I'm not talking about trivial cosmetic mods like skinning a media player application, I'm talking about changing how information is presented to you. Different learning styles are rewarded by different organizational schemes.
In a way, it's like developing a relationship with a vendor or a customer. At first, you're feeling each other out, just guessing what the other person needs you to tell them. After a while, you develop a working process, and it requires a lot less effort to get work done. Having 'preferences' in your interaction with a computer, or a car, or anything, makes it more like a partnership and less like using a tool.