The point i am trying to make (unsuccessfully, i think, after re-reading my previous posts)is:
1. (The first premise i have, to reiterate):
Given a similar amount of effort, a modern GNU/linux distrubution oriented toward the home or business user is not harder to learn and in many ways is easier to use than WindowsXP and from within this distro and its repositories you can usually do everything you would want to do in XP and more; you just have to be willing to put the same effort into learning it that you put into windows, even with Xandros.
2. (The second premise i have, to reiterate):
Xandros is an example of a distrubution that will do this, and a good one, by all accounts (I personnally have never used it). Where I disagree with you, however, is in your choice of calling it the ONLY distro available for the newbie that will just work for a desktop or workstation replacement to windows. This is simply not true.
3. (The third premise i have, to reiterate):
It is true that as you descend into the world of administration sooner or later you are going to have leave your prefered distro's repositories and compile some zany app from source and deal with dep-hell. But once you have begun that descent, you are no longer a typical end user and you have become an administrator or a computer geek who probably learned how to really use linux on the way down. It is a problem, but not a problem for newbies.
4. (My conclusion, argument, what i really mean is):
Perhaps this article should have been two: one addressed to newbies to recommend Xandros and one addressed to linux users lamenting the current fractured state of the Linux project.
As for the other points you bring up (for what my opinion is worth):
I agree, there is a serious problem in the religious attitude that some people take to their distros. I am not familiar enough with the finer points (or even the broad points, really) of packaging, however it is also serious problem that there is no standard package format or manager.
However, this is simply going to happen in a world where the software relies on many small groups of people on a more or less voluntary basis write little bits of a huge program. Microsoft can dictate a standard format and set of libraries for all programs written for its operating system to use because it has a huge pool of programers who it can devote to writing all this code in secret, which then all be released at one time and cannot be modified until the next release, even if some better library comes along. Linux cannot do this for the simple fact that when something new comes out (like a cool new library for drawing pretty graphics on screen), some developer is going to use it and nobody is going to wait two years for the next stable release of [insert standard distro of choice here]. Furthermore, even if everybody did try to go for a standard release time for kernel and all libraries and whatever else you need under the hood, it would be a massive (to the point of unmanagable) effort to sync new releases of all the packages available to Linux to this release date, especially given the more or less voluntary nature of all those projects. Proprietary software makers can manage it; they have lots of money to dump into such an effort and a coordinated infrastructure; Linux, which relies at least partially on hackers at home for its advancement, cannot.
So, we in the GNU/Linux home user world are stuck with the distro-centric orientation, since these are the people who willing sit down and put most of the best packages together in a format where everything will play nicely together and make GNU/Linux consumable. And, given the variety of uses people have out there, i am not entirely convinced that this is such a bad way to go.
By the way, have you ever used Gentoo?