Just my opinion, but I don't think 4th edition D&D is the system for a continuation of Etherscope, much too combat- and miniatures- oriented, and not nearly role-playing.
(Oh, I feel a side note is in order to correct something said earlier. The largest documented number of players of Dungeons and Dragons were during early 2nd Edition era, that included most first and second generation players. The 3.x marketing schemes managed to alienate a lot of those founding players, who have since moved onto other game systems. And with shift in focus to a more miniatures-oriented video-game feeling play system have shifted many more players toward other companies systems as well. )
I definitely agree with you about 4th ed, but I think that, wilst 3rd ed might have lost a few players, many more came back to D&D through 3rd ed (like me), and it even gained players who'd never played any version of D&D before (like Nigel).
In my own experience I played 2nd ed AD&D from shortly after its release, but only stick with it for 3 years or so, during which time I matured from 16 to 19 years old and found other game systems which I felt provided a much greater ability for me to roleplay and create many and varied characters and settings that I felt D&D inhibited me from doing. With 3rd ed I felt D&D had finally learnt from the developments other game systems had made over the last 10 or so years and felt like a "proper" roleplaying game.
My problem with 4th ed is as follows: when it was being released a lot of people were saying things like "it's still D&D" and "we won't change the game from being D&D". What I wanted to hear them say, and what I don't think they have managed to achieve, is "it's still going to be a roleplaying game". I fell out with D&D during 2nd ed and never really gotback into D&D as such, I just got back into the D20 system.
Cheerio for now,