The desktop is certainly an important piece and part of the solution. Basically I'm looking for something:
1. free/stable/long term support (my focus has been on Ubutu 10.04 and derivatives, with Linux Mint 9 my #1 choice right now)
2. can run on older/modest hardware without problem
3. out of the box or "staples easy button" out of the box configuration for common things like flash, mp3, etc.
4. only one application for every basic/common need (and nothing extra) and each one of those simplified with the fewest menu's and options to get lost in
5. locked down so settings and configuration can not be broken, right now I'm looking at things like to accomplish this:
d. limiting admin rights
6. over sized text with icons that make things obvious (i.e. a envelope icon instead of a thunderbird icon etc.)
7. easy remote desktop support
From using the live version http://elementaryos.org/
it looks promising but is too immature a release and http://eldy.eu/
somehow almost makes me feel offended for the end-user, I can see how it might be good for a very specific audience (retirement homes maybe) but it seems "computers" way to watered down.