another linux vs windows argument, joy..
And yet I choose to join in anyway..
Goat Jam your argument is fundamentally flawed. You claim a lot of users only want to do web surfing, so why not just use Linux? You quite brilliantly sum up the counter argument with this claim. To most users, a Linux machine is ONLY good for web surfing or an inferior form of document processing. Certainly, windows benefits from entrenchment and OEM lock-ins, but we should still see far more users trying out Linux than we do. I even know some well meaning but non-technical people that have given it a go. 9 times out of 10 they'll switch back once they realise things that were only a Google search away with Windows, are now much more difficult.
I think the default installation of VM software with automated execution of Windows binaries was actually rather good. If I were in charge of a distro's development, getting a decent windows VM running on my distro would be my first priority, closely followed by ensuring its use is transparent to the user. Sure, it's damned difficult, but this is an imperfect world, and the average user is going to pick the easiest option every time.
MS will continue to operate on the edge of what they think they can get away with. Sure they charge more, but the user gets to stay in their comfort zone. The key to beating windows isn't crying about how much cheaper your OS is. You need to comfort the user that they won't be missing out on functionality by using your distro. Arguments like "but you only need web browsing, we can do that!" are exactly the wrong ones to take.
Linux has certainly made a lot of headway by developing their own equivalent apps, but GIMP remains inferior to Photoshop, and Openoffice remains inferior to MS Office.