"If Microsoft released a version of Windows with a built in timebomb that required you to buy a new version at a cost of around $180 in approximately 3 to 5 years, people would scream bloody murder. "
You're right - they would. And they'd be justified. But the comparison you've made is invalid.
The life of the battery isn't something that Apple have deliberately hobbled in some way, (well, we'll see once the machines are a couple of years old...), but it is a physical limitation.
The thing that people seem to be getting upset about is that to change the thing, you have to take your machine to some asshat with a vacant expression in a black rollneck sweater. The implication is that this is going to be pricey.
But look at that - it's apparently cheaper than buying a user-replacable Dell battery. And as our esteemed author points out, by the time these units need replacing they'll be out of warranty anyway, third party OEMs will be making replacements, and the world will keep turning.
The only problem I can see is if these (Apple) batteries don't live up to their promised specifications. THEN the consumer will have grounds for a complaint.
( Just for the record, the only Apple product I own is a Quadra 650. )