To me, the fault lies with the company that makes the stuff. It seems to me that if what people want is an appliance then that's what a savvy mfr would strive to produce. Make the dang thing work out of the box and configure itself to the peripherals and LAN or whatever. RAM is cheap. Disk space is cheap. Processors have huge computational power. What we lack is human brain power to write the code to "intelligently" self-configure.
If you look at the big name boxes, they are very good at self configuration. Most [Sony, Dell, IBM, eMachine, HP] have automatic config utilities that are set at factory that address all the initial components. They also address software parameters that are likely to be seen.
Then you have the OS. From the factory [loaded from say Sony or HP] it is optimized for that CPU, memory, video card, HDD, sound card, etc. It has a full image backup and enough hidden drivers to accept damned near any name brand component that you might want to plug into it [scanner, printer, camera, Palm, TV, network, usb hub, etc].
The problem comes from two sources. The small companies that try to compete with Logitech and Linksys type companies with cheaper, third world components and [usually] "borrowed" designs. They are not tested for compatibility and the drivers are not robust. If they only had three processors or bus designs to design too, like a mac the problem would be less but there are 47 motherboards and 25 processors that are considered "current". MOST work well.
The other problem is the end user who sometimes buys the cheapest thing, assuming it is "just as good" as the 10X counterpart, not understanding one had $millions in R&D and pros designing the drivers and the other was a copied design from two generations ago and pulled together in one of 20 Pacific Rim countries with no testing. "But it says it is compatible". And under the right circumstance it is.
You cannot build enough brain power into a computer to take all those tangential variable parameters into account. The absolute variety of merchandise is the best part of PC and also the worst.
I took an HP box from Best Buy to get it ready for a friend's kid for Christmas. My job was to make sure it had everything the kid would need for school and put some parental controls on it that he could not break. Out of the box I was able to turn it on, it saw my wireless network, asked for login, logged in updated all its software [OS, Office, virus, Spy and AdBlock] with only OK prompting. Afterwards I cleared my wireless net info off, put my friends net info on the config, including their email pops, loaded some car photos and locked down the Admin user so only his mother or I can get in. There was no configuration other than the email pops, the network firewall [to give me a remote backdoor] and the parental controls [and then removing the control buttons off the drop menus]. If it had not been for a kid needing wireless and parental controls [and a remote "big brother"] the computer would have flown out of the box with no help what so ever. I was in the computer under 30 minutes and it was back in the box.