I was going to post on this, but you beat me to it.
Also read Kim's posts on Is Linux Really Ready for a Simple User
(8-part series, eep!!), Steven J.'s response and reasons why he thinks the Linux Desktop Will Succeed Despite Itself
While you're at it, see LinuxBrainDump's Commenting on a Simple User
What these articles have done for me is break through the clouds of optimism that I cannot help but get caught up in having been a Linux user for a scant 5 years now, full-time as of 2 years.
It pains me greatly to hear of the difficulties people go through over what should be a simple task and I think Stephen J.'s article touched on that, but it is a monstrous reality that some things still demand to be hand-crafted in Linux (all 'pro' arguments aside...) which, like it or not, is simply too much to ask for from the average Windows user. My wife would refuse to use Linux if I did not "fix" it for her, I can assure you.
It pains me to hear the smug and often uninformed Windows user who pops off a curt "I tried linux and it sux" (or similar) blanket statement but knowing that (as it stands) the question is not 'Is Linux ready for the Desktop' but 'Are you ready to deal with a Linux Desktop' and also knowing that for 80-90% of Windows users the answer is "No, not really, I just don't have the time, don't bug me with that icky command line, let me play my games and how come if Linux is so cool there's not a version of Photoshop for it?".
To know that as much as Windows users have put up with over the years, it still runs damn well enough to remain the dominant OS (who would complain about a 300-pound gorilla if he mows the lawn and does the dishes?), all claims of monopoly aside.
To know that, like it or not, and to varying degrees, most if not all Linux distros fall short of what they claim, and the ones that would dare advertise their shortcomings wouldn't get very far on DistroWatch.
To know that as popular as Linux is getting, most manufacturers of peripheral hardware still refuse to release robust drivers, API or code, any of which would be acceptable for the vast majority of users and a definite kick in the pants for Linux adoption.
I have run some of the most awful distros and successfully so, and thought I was so 1337 for it. I dove in headfirst to Linux and learned a ton in the process. The way was not always easy, and some days I did give up (for the day...) and some days I marvelled that people still think "Linux is not ready". Some may argue that the learning curve for Windows is steep as well, but that's no excuse. In reality, you're asking plain folks to switch carts in the middle of a race, not pick a cart at the starting line and make your go of it, which is what Microsoft did from the beginning. Linux as an easy to use personal desktop is very much "almost there", so close you can taste it, but it's an upstart in that regard, and I dare say a darned snotty one at that. Don't be surprised when people act like they are being faced with a snotty upstart... they are. In Briard's articles, he continually stated his opposition to using the command-line for ANYTHING even though we regular users know in our little geek hearts that his fears of 'breaking things' are not justified and that a terminal window is simply a portal to the magic that is the Linux experience, not the touch-and-go surgery that editing a Windows Registry is (he equates the two, you see...). Still, his viewpoint is valid that a robust, usable gui SHOULD be able to take care of what 90% of users are going to need. Blame it on Microsoft, go ahead, they deserve it, but DON'T blame Average Joe for his trained-in preferences.
I love Linux and as long as it remains legal, I will never turn back. But personally, I think it's high time we (full or part-time members of the GnU community) stop waving our 'RTFM' flags, start taking naysayers as constructive critics rather than flame-bait, give newbies the help they deserve (yes, even the annoying ones) and start helping existing distros perfect their craft before Vista gets a blood transfusion and starts singing and dancing like it was supposed to in the first place.
(tip of the hat to the 'Young Frankenstein' analogy?)
Was that a rant? Maybe I should take a poll...