You are laboring under poor reading comprehension. I didn't say it Windows or Mac wouldn't require free tech support. I said that it would be nearly impossible to do without opening a command prompt.
Windows and Mac OS X can handle all of the issues a non-power user would encounter with GUI interface alone. Power users will have to resort to command line options in all three OSs and I don't begrudge those people their options. What I am saying is that Linux is still primarily for the power user and tinkerers. I believe that De Icaza is correct to say that Linux on the desktop has failed. But let me lengthen that sentence so that people don't flame me to death.
Linux on the desktop has failed to gain traction with the mass market and will continue to fail unless some entity comes along and unifies the Linux desktop experience into something that is A) consistent and B) adopted as the default experience on all or a majority of Linux distributions. Linux lovers are always crying, "But there are CHOICES for what you want! Just install XYZ and it will be everything you always wanted!" This is, at best, misguided.
If we restrain the discussion to focus only on getting Linux in the hands of the common user, then De Icaza is quite correct. The problem lies in the very culture he is lamenting. The very first post in this discussion starts with, "It works for me!" Which is wrong, wrong, wrong. Of course it works for that person. Of course there are people posting here how they run all Linux machines at home and their wife and kids don't mind. This happened because the those posters learned all they needed to know in order to make it seem easy to them.
People are also saying, "But Windows is hard too!" Yes, yes it is. But that ignores the fact that there are millions of people who have been trained, one way or the other, to use Windows already. You mom learned how to make Windows and Office do her bidding at work and oh yeah, learned where Solitaire is. So when she comes home and your dad wants to distract himself, you mother shows him solitaire and the Internet Explorer. In the same way, anyone who is not already familiar with Windows has a ready pool of instructors to teach them the ropes. Linux does not have this vast army of people who want to show off. Linux has a much smaller army, it is just more devout.
Mac OS also has a smaller install base but either markets its stuff so well that everyone gets it, or actually makes a good product. People here will tell you Apple's success is purely a marketing success and that they make crap products. I like their products personally, but it doesn't take me long to see that the way I use a Mac is not intuitive and would require quite a bit of me training new users. The difference is that I can point those new users at shiny widgets that they can remember and the settings are always(or for at least that last decade) in the same place.
So, Windows has a huge install base, Max OS has either good marketing or good design, take you pick. and Linux has what? Too many choices? (Mostly) Un-friendly user base? Windows has ubiquity, Apple has money to throw at problems and Linux has people like Linus Torvalds who is certainly smart and a good engineer but a terrible leader. Linus calls people morons constantly which is the opposite of good for the community, even is he is right every time.
There are a ton more issues with the community and I'm sure that someone will point them out if they see this response. I could write for hours about what is keeping Linux from the mainstream but there is really no point because eventually someone will tell me to write a patch if I am so smart and just do me the favor of driving my points home. Linux has the technical part down. Linux needs the guiding hand of someone who can cultivate a personality cult until Linux has its own place among the other major operating systems.
Some words I have to look up over and over again, like tautology. You are correct though. my statements where circular on the face. Companies seem to me to be saying(advertising), "Ours is the best!" Then they seem to build the worst experience instead.
I will assume your use of, "lock-in," in your response is a allusion to any of, iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iOS App store, or any number of other products created by Apple(maybe you aren't even being that specific, maybe you really meant in general). This is not an inaccurate assessment of these products, but lock-in implies that they are there to prevent a cutomer from switching away from the crappy service or product they already own, such as a low-interest/high-fee bank account, or an ETF for shitty wireless service. In the case of Apple, the services I mention above seem to create the very reason why going with Apple products and services are a good thing. Leave aside your hang-ups about not being able to run any app you want or loading your own OS on the iOS hardware(I would wager that less than 1% of people who own or can afford to own the devices care about the standard slashdot arguments against iOS devices). The fact is that the hardware is well made and backed by a warranty that is reported to be fairly well executed. Even if you do have objections about the hardware, too slow, not as many cores as you would like, not enough ram, camera or whatever else. All of the tablets on the market today have roughly similar hardware specs. The thing that differentiates each companiys' offerings is the software behind it and, as many have aregued here, the advertising.
So what I was saying is that companies see Apple produce a $600 tablet and say, "Hey, we can do that." So they make $600 of hardware and ship it to Best Buy and then wonder why it doesn't sell. Which is your point. What I was saying is that a company has to do every aspect of creating a tablet well-enough. They cannot just make the best hardware. If we say that Apple makes middling Hardware and software, and advertises reasonably well. Then a competitor cannot make amazing hardware and shit software with crappy advertising and expect to do better. They must do as well as Apple in all categories and better in at least one.
Anyway, I don't think that Apple's products and services are lock-in for the sake of keeping customers so much as a set of things that are worth more together than the sum of their individual parts(but let us not trot THAT word out).
Okay, so you(and [some of] your antecedents in this thread) admit that people want to be like other people. So I fail to see how an Apple product being popular is a bad thing in this scenario. What I see as the problem is a corporate mentality that thinks building a better widget is going to sell more than building a popular widget.
Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.