Ok then. I'll turn my brain ON and flame you ; )
Actually, if anything drove personal computers, it's games. That's an area that only recently included Microsoft as anything but a platform.
The internet actually occurred entirely without the aid of Microsoft. Arguably, it's one of the mainstream areas of computing where Bill was caught with his pants down. You have our friends at CERN, the military, and universities around the world to thank for the internet. All Billy-boy did was run out with IE and push .NET. I think Al Gore had more to do with it.
For making computers easy for us humans to deal with? No, you have Doug Engelbart to thank for that. Mac did just fine (and arguably better) without Microsoft's aid.
For making computers easy for programmers? Actually there's plenty of standards which exist without any aid from Microsoft. libSDL for instance. Long before SDL though, there was tk, widgets, and the standard X interfaces. Besides, I don't consider a "solution" that works on a total of one platform "standard".
Actually, if you compare OpenSSHs track record with Outlook, you'll find that OpenSSH goes much longer without security problems. It's even better if you look at commercial SSH. Moreover, the OpenSSH folks discover their problems before your favorite script kiddie. A perfect example of where MS failed?
Code Red. Those patches came out after the worm had already taken things out. It's only thanks to the hardwork of ISP admins that there was any access at all
after it hit.
OpenSSH also doesn't charge for fixes (or, should I say, Service Packs).
There's also plenty of options in Linux. If OpenSSH is in trouble, there's at least two other projects I can think of which you can easily build into. If IIS coughs, your only option is to shut it down.
Therefore, *nix is more secure. If you don't like comparing it to OpenSSH, you could compare it to qmail
Finally, Linux was not the result of anyone being tired with M$. It was the result of Linus wanting a 32-bit operating system for his 386. He wrote it and released it to the world. It took on a life of its own from there, mostly thanks to Richard Stallman who was looking for a free *nix-like for his GNU tools to be ported to. Open source was a happening thing a long time beforehand. I've been digging up 80 Micro magazines and BASIC books which prove
that point quite nicely.
And if you truly want to consider the average user, consider my mother. Her computer is running Gentoo and she thinks GNOME is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Before you ask, that's all out of the package. I haven't tweaked a single thing about the UI.
Actually, now that I sit here and think about it, I can't think of a single thing that Microsoft did to improve computing on their own. Even NT (and therefore, XP) was the result of their partnership with IBM and OS/2. Intel's been building good chips for a while now, regardless of what Bill's been up to. Even DOS wasn't Bill's idea, it was Gary's. Bill didn't even make DOS, he bought it from Tim Petersen.
So what does the modern world look like without Microsoft? Probably a lot like Apple. Probably a lot more like NeXT. Probably with all the trimmings that the world has now.