I am a 30-year veteran in the PC field. I dont see the Microsoft GUI hegemony as unfortunate, as Peter Coffee suggests in his Nov. 14 Epicenters column ("One GUI to Rule Them All").
The consistency of the user interface between system vendors simplified training requirements. There is a de facto vetting mechanism for prospective hires in that knowing the Windows environment qualifies candidates for whatever hardware vendor we currently embrace.
Imagine the consternation of your help desk if the staff had to support PCs booting into various flavors of HPs New Wave, Microsofts Bob, Xeroxs Rooms or some desktop manager you have never seen before.
We have also benefited from unabashedly inexpensive desktop and laptop computer systems. Vendors now have to compete on cost and performance features to hook purchasers. If anything, it is the hardware hegemony that has driven the GUI hegemony, much the same way that commodity hardware caused most automobile driver controls be pretty much alike.
Having weathered the bad old days of the 1980s, supporting a lab with GEM, Mac OS, Apple DOS, Windows, Amiga DOS, AT&T Layers and a handful of other GUIs, I am much happier now. I can actually focus on getting work done for my clients rather than having to constantly learn yet another interface. It may have been heavy-handed, but we have benefited from Microsofts mandated consistency.
Senior Network Engineer