WebSphere Portal has concept of Development mode for some time, basic idea is to improve the startup time of portal by delaying the startup of application. The application should be started when it is accessed for first time instead of starting it at the server startup time. As per Marshal Lamb there are close to 75 portlets for administrating portal and some of the companies dont use Portal Admin Console in certain environments such as Production.
When working in Portlet developer role i dont use Portal Admin Console as much, most of my work revolves around updating the portlet application which i can do easily using RAD and RAD makes use of xmlaccess and wsadmin script so i dont need any of the Admin portlets.
WebSphere Portal provides enable-develop-mode-startup-performance to enable development mode and disable-develop-mode-startup-performance task to disable development mode. This part is same as that of WPS 6.1, what has changed is that now this task works more gracefully, before it use to disable Portal Help, Portlet palette, Personalization. As part of WPS 6.1.5, IBM did test this feature to make sure that everything works properly.
I tried using development mode on WPS 6.1.5 and now it works really well. I havent run into any problems so far.