With the introduction of unicode TeX variants, inputenc becomes a bit
of a funny package. From what we've seen on the XeTeX mailing list,
new users very commonly include it in their preamble from long years
of accustomed practise in 8-bit LaTeX. And then complain when,
naturally, things don't work.
I think I'd like to propose a "forwards compatibility" disabling in
this package that detects the presence of XeTeX or LuaTeX (or Aleph or
Omega if there's any continued use of those programs) and finishes
gracefully without trying to turn the UTF8 octets into active chars.
The package can still serve the useful purpose of switching the input
encoding of the document (in XeTeX at least).
Any comments? If the LaTeX team doesn't like this idea, we could
always write our own inputenc package specifically for the XeTeX
branch of the TDS (i.e., tex/xelatex/inputenc.sty, which wouldn't be
found by vanilla latex), but that way lies madness.