The very point of Latty's challenge is to show that it isn't so much that Linux needs to become more user friendly, it's that people need to get to know it to become friendly, since so much of that has to do with what seems familiar. It has been known generally for a very long time that Apple is far more about user-friendly than anyone and though their numbers are growing now, it hasn;t been Number One for a very long time and the present growth is not in the least commensurate with the real gap in user friendliness.
Someone brand new to computers (are any left?) booting first to OSX will look around and ask "So what can I do now?" and slowly discover how to view and edit photos, watch DVDs (which just run upon insert since Apple has been auto-sensing since before Windows 3) etc. and be happy to discover what works and it is very accommodating so the process is easy.
OTOH A 5 year windows veteran (the larger part of the population by far) booting into the most user friendly OS out there will be asking "Where's Explorer? Where's Control Panel? or Where's whatever you've become used to depending on to navigate Windows. For me, coming from DOS originally (and believe me FreeDos is still happening for some more than playing old games), file manager's are incredibly important and can be a deal breaker if I can't look around and manipulate files the way I'm used to. The main reason I use KDE over Gnome, even though ti is essentially the same OS) is Konqueror vs/ Nautilus. So is it the OpSys or the Window Manager that people find "friendly"? I contend it is familiarity.
Once boasting 30 million paid subscribers, AOL, though now so out of date that though proprietary is now free, still has 10 million users... addicts who just can't break the habit even though it chokes every PC it touches, just because it's "user-friendly" or more accurately, familiar. I seriously doubt AOL enjoys many new users. It's just people who can't or won't make the change until they have no alternative. Does anyone doubt it will one day be dropped altogether? Will it be at 5 Million users or 1 Million is the only question.
I know "soothsayers" have been forecasting what was once called "push technology" now called "Cloud Computing" for a very long time but one thing has changed that is making that imminent, IMHO, and that is cell phones and netbooks. If there is any doubt then just look at Google's stock growth curve and the way in which their Office apps work and how Chrome OS is designed and you will be convinced, once you realize how many more people have cell phones than PCs, that limited (read "cheaper") hardware with net access, net based apps (all funded by monthly plans) is the coming thing whether you call it "Push" or "Cloud".
Factor in that Steve Jobs wants out of the ordinary PC business and that some 80+% of cell phones and net appliances run some variation of Linux, and you will see Windows' days are truly numbered. Sure there will be hangers on just like with AOL but all innovation will slow to a stop and soon. It is already happening as can be seen in Windows 7 because it, while admittedly better than Vista, looks less like traditional Windows and more like Linux, yet has painted itself into a corner vis a vis Cloud Computing. It can't go there. It is anathema to both the business model and the software roots to which Windows belongs and from which cannot be altogether set free and still be windows.
Also consider that despite the fact that many netbook owners have eschewed cheaper, faster, more trouble-free Linux for slower, more expensive, higher maintenance (but familiar) XP, this phenomenon is more like the AOL hangers on. Far more numbers of the up and coming user market install Linux on Tivo, routers, PsX game consoles and even XBox, because Open Source and embedded are winning over expensive and clunky proprietary.
Can you imagine Vista running on your cell phone, in a flight control tower, or on an ATM? Unless you don't mind being a fossil in 5 years, you'd better learn some Linux soon. ... that is unless you'd prefer to just accept whatever "the Gods" hand out as "new and improved".