I know I'm probably missing some (ok, many) points, but at this stage I gave up on Linux Desktop -- using mac and windows (when I have to) is easier.
> We are trying to compete with a near monopoly (Windows)
Duh, that's the whole point, right? To be better than Windows and lure in corporate and home users to the glory of Linux Desktop. Try again
> Companies tend to depend on a myriad of applications to run their business, and just a couple of them not running under Linux would be enough to derail a transition to Linux desktops
So what, home users are already done for? Fine. Why not pick a few large corporations, find those pesky migration derailers and fix them? Oh, busy with something else, you say, okay.
> We were competing not only with other operating systems, but with a Office productivity application monopoly
But didn't Linux community provide something that was "totally able to replace Office" and kinda compatible? Oh, you mean that's not a Desktop Issue at that point, but Office Issue. I see.
> We are trying to compete by supporting an unlimited range of hardware options
Well, Windows does it mostly by giving manufacturers a relatively straightforward way to provide binary drivers, so as long as you don't yank the compatibility rug for some reason it'd "just work". Oh, you're saying binary drivers only over your dead body? Okay. Have you tried, I don't know, support less of a range of hardware options if it strains resources?
> We divided our efforts into multiple competing APIs (GNOME vs KDE)
Because nothing tickles people's fancies as endless fights over which one of two incompatible ways to do things is The Only Way. With inevitable hissy-fits, splits in the groups and forks into those very competing APIs. I see.
> There was never a clear method of distributing software on Linux outside the distro specific package system.
I guess the reason why there isn't one clear method is the previous reason of constant in-fighting?
> Many of our underlaying systems were a bit immature
This has been "The Year of Linux Desktop Breakthrough" for many years now. Still a bit immature?
> Software patents on multimedia codecs made it hard to create a good out of the box experience for multimedia
But the manufacturer-supplied binary dri.... Okay, okay, you think not having a binary driver is important. No multimedia for you then.
> Competing with free applications is never a tempting proposition for 3rd party vendors
Given how free applications don't seem to be a runaway success, I kinda doubt it. Given quality of some of those free apps my doubt rises rapidly.
> We never reached a critical mass where porting to desktop Linux tended to make sense
A bit chicken and the egg thing, no? If the reason why dekstop Linux doesn't get new adopters is that it has too few adopters, better give up right now.
> An impression was created that Linux users would not pay for any software
Well, the target is windows users, right? Linux users are already on a linux desktop. Windows users are known to pay for windows licenses (well, mostly)
> The different update cycles of the distributions made it hard to know when a new API would be available ‘everywhere’
Oh, so no universal APIs, conflicting distros and general "herding cats" type of problems. I see.
> Success in other areas drained resources away from the desktop
That's essentially saying "well didn't even want it to succeed that much".
I suppose if only someone had a good set of developers, clearly set goals, no in-fighting, stable APIs, predictable release schedules, support for binary drivers and whatever end user wants/needs and not what's "ideologically right", the whole Linux Desktop Takes Over Windows World would happen. But our individual preferences are more important. And nobody is willing to sacrifice anything for seemingly important goal of luring users to Linux Desktop. So just say so, and stop blaming the world for everything. Or stop pretending that Linux Desktop adoption by Windows users is important, and live happily with geeks-oriented system. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just don't lie to yourself.