OK, I'm too lazy to read all this, so I'll give you an anecdote instead.
So one day I put my Windows DVD in the drive and boot. It boots, installs, detects every single piece of my hardware. It "Just works".
Another day I put a Linux CD in and tried the same thing. It boots, provides instructions on how to install, installs, configures packages, installs those, detects most of my hardware and installs their drivers. For reasons I never understood, it couldn't
boot to X with my three Radeon X1650's, even in 640x480x256. Googling reveals I can fix it with some config file changes and by asking my hardware manufacturer to write a linux driver.
I ask you, who in this story had the better OOBE?
That, sir, is what is right about Microsoft.
Thanks for your post. I have waisted countless hours (for no good reason) in similar adventures.