I'm going to say something rather unkind about the human race, not specifically this group, but everyone on the planet in general: The masses are asses. I heard this in my early teens, and I have observed its truth throughout my life, even when I didn't want it to be.
I think it was Heinlein who said something like, '95% of everything is crap.' (He, or whichever author it was, began by saying that 95% of all science fiction was crap, and, when challenged, enlarged the concept.) I remember the quote, even if I may not be correct about the author, because it changed my life.
Call me elitist, maybe even an elitist snob, but I have always had trouble understanding the choices people make. For me, I think the most Linux can hope for is a more substantial 'market share' and greater general awareness of its existence. I'm fine with that; I just want to have the freedom to use what I want in an OS-- now that I've tasted freedom.
Why do people prefer to pay? Because they believe that money is real. In order to be worth something, it has to cost you money. Dr. Wu, of beloved memory here in Columbus, used to tell his kung fu students, "If you ever decide to teach, charge a lot of money. Americans don't place any value on anything that has no cost associated with it, so if you want them to believe that what you are offering them has any real value, charge the most the local market you are in will allow."
I personally place more value on the development of my mind, so I love learning about Linux. For those who wish to have their minds degenerate into useless mush, there are other options, like buying a laptop preloaded with Windows and just checking their email and watching Hulu. Most people fall somewhere in between, but the majority seem to tend toward the lower end of the scale.
I think Mint is the distro that is a perfect introduction to Linux. But if the many choose to stay with Windows, let them. We will be here for the few.