Yeah, I think you have hit this exactly on the head. Reading through the Tyso comments on the blog I think he even confirmed that not preserving ordering is a change in behavior since ext3.
This whole discussion has really not been focused much on what actually are sane behaviors for a FS to have across an unclean shutdown. To date most writings by FS designers I've read seem to focus entirely on avoiding FSCK and avoiding FS meta-data inconsistencies. Very few people seem to talk about things like what the application sees/wants.
One of the commentors on the blog had the best point - insisting on adding fsync before every close/rename sequence (either implicitly in the kernel as has been done, or explicitly in all apps) is going to badly harm performance. 99% of these case do not need the data on the disk, just the write/close/rename order preserved.
Getting great performance by providing weak guarentees is one thing, but then insisting everyone who cares about their data use explicit calls that provide a much stronger and slower guarantee is kinda crazy. Just because POSIX is silent on this matter doesn't mean FS designers should get a free pass on transactional behaviors that are so weak they are useless.
For instance under the same POSIX arguments Ted is making it would be perfectly legitimate for a write/fsync/close/rename to still erase both files because you didn't do a fsync on the directory! Down this path lies madness - at some point the FS has to preserve order!
I wonder how bad a hit performance sensitive apps like rsync will get due to the flushing on rename patches?