I'm a litte confused
"From a general operating system perspective - there's still a lot of packages to download. That's not something you are going to see my mom use," Mann said bluntly. "Until it gets to the point where it's drop-dead simple or devices lock down functionality, you aren't going to see much uptake among consumers."
Let's see. Suppose I've gone completely insane and want to replace, say, Lookout Excess with an E-mail client that, say, doesn't go looking for ways to infect the machine. Simple, yes? Just Google for E-mail programs and sort through the crap until I find one that's a) free and b) does what I want. (Note: last time I did that, there was no such thing. I ended up buying a copy of Pocomail.)
Then I run around looking for their download page -- usually simple, but not always, depending -- download the thing. Then go through the install process.
OK, not that hard.
OK, let's check that function in Ubuntu. I pick Ubuntu because I'm reasonably familiar with it and it's probably the most popular at the moment. Well, let's see... first of all, it ships with an E-mail client already, but so does Windows. IIRC it's Evolution. But I don't like Evolution. So I click Applications, Add/Remove, type "mail client" into the search box, and a few seconds later I have a list. I have to read the descriptions and maybe do a little research if that's not enough, but I have a list of e-mail clients to work from. Now I happen to like Claws Mail, having already spent some time doing the research, so I tick the check box and click "Apply Changes". Voila, in a few minutes I have my mail client installed.
It's actually rather convenient to use the repository. But apparently his mom finds it easier to search on the 'web.
Of course, maybe I don't like any of the choices in the repository, in which case I need to -- dare I suggest it? -- search the 'web, so maybe I'm no better off. But Windows doesn't give you the choice.
And chances are Mom would rather stick with Outlook, and Sonny there isn't going to rock the boat by, say, installing something less vulnerable. But you see my point -- an awful lot of the programs you are likely to want or need are a few clicks away and can be installed automatically.
And Ubuntu comes with an E-mail client, web client, office suite, games, calendar, and so on by default. Does Windows come with all that? Well, mostly, except the office suite. You either have to pay for Microsoft Office or download OpenOffice (or StarOffice) and install them yourself.
But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, he's not important.
For your average "Mom" user, once installed competently, a modern desktop Linux should be as easy to use as Windows. Admittedly if you want something not available via the repository you may have to do some work to install it, whereas Windows installers are usually pretty straightforward.
So it's going to depend a lot on a lot of factors. But I object to the assertion that a) if you run a new Linux install you automatically have to install a lot of packages (which ones?) and b) the implied assertion that it's easier to do in Windows, all the time.
Updates and patches? Nearly automatic in Ubuntu. It tells you when there are updates ready. One click to start the updater, another to apply changes, a third time to shut it down when it's finished, and the only time you have to reboot is if it's something like a kernel patch. Windows? I don't know about Vista, but I always have to spend several minutes of my first XP install setting up the Automatic Updates, Firewall, and Virus scanner settings, along with setting the thing up not to keep pestering me if I don't have them set the way Microsoft thinks I should. Fortunately I've done it enough times to be able to go through it quickly, but will Mom know how to do that? Ubuntu comes installed with the updater already set up the way I like it. Let me know when updates are available, and let me decide when I want to apply them.
It's not as one-sided as it used to be, pal. Wake up and smell the coffee.