As a new Mint user, an a VERY novice Linux user, I can actually see both sides of the arguement.
I haven't read all 43 pages of this thread, but just looking back at some of the recent comments, hardware compatibility seems to be a key factor here. Those who have hardware that play nice will generally have a good experience-those that don't, especially newcomers, will find it a nightmare.
In all honesty, there are some things that I think Windows "does better". And I have a couple minor annoyances that I never experienced with Windows. But the truth is, I'm sticking with Linux. I really don't like the direciton Microsoft is headed (or Unbuntu for that matter), as I need a traditional desktop interface for my power computing needs. Although I have some quirks, so far I really am liking Mint.
I just finished an email telling a co-worker my honest opinion of Linux (Mint specifically, but just said "Linux" as not to cause confusion). And here it is, whether you agree or not, its just my opinion:
Linux (Mint) IS ready for prime time to *USE* from a novice PC user's perspective.
Linux (Mint) is NOT ready for prime time to *INSTALL/SETUP* from a novice PC user's perspective.
Linux (Mint) is ready for prime time for *INSTALL/SETUP/USE* from a Power PC user's perspective, albeit with some growing pains.
What I mean by that, is lets face it-Installation is VERY easy. Answer a couple simple questions, click forward a few times, and done. HOWEVER, I tried to set up my printer by clicking "printers" and was greeted with an error. After research, its a bug, and I had to drop to the terminal and type system-config-printer. Okay, so that was really really easy, BUT...from a complete novice standpoint, probably not. Yes, you can easily search for solutions to problems like this, but the point is the vast majority of the time, Windows user's are accustomed to doing so.
Now in defending Linux, I'll bet the novice user would have an equally hard time installing Windows "from scratch", with all the drivers, configuration, settings, etc. In my mind its no harder to install one over the other-just different. The problem is (again from the novice user's perspective), I would say the bulk of users in that category never had to install Windows, or device drivers, etc. They probably bought their computer, and with the exceptionn of maybe some external peripherals, all the setup is already done for them.
And I think there in lies the real problem. There just aren't many (any?) computers as readily available for sale pre-configured with Linux, tested, and ready to go. So it takes a little more work in getting a system set up. With computers pre-configured with Windows, you just go buy it, turn it on, answer some simple questions, and your all set.
Now from a USE standpoint-I find both equally easy. I use applications, not OSes. Coming from a Windows background, I regularly used Firefox as a browser, and Thunderbird as my email client. I see virtually no difference in either under Mint. Yes, the underlying OS is different, but the actual day to day USE remains the same.
So thats my take on things. In short, I do understand both sides of the equasion, but I have just made the switch, and although experiencing a little bit of growing pains, I am satisfied, and am not looking back.