The main complaint seems to be related to the default installation. Windows has always had a custom install with a way to trim down to basics with both groups of items and sub-categories of apps/applets within them so as to allow the user to minimize the footprint on the HD. Hitting 'next-next-OK' results in bloat. Additionally there are ways to trim down services to make Windows run more efficiently and boot faster but most mainstream users don't bother to do that.
IT Pros can create a trimmed-down image with only basic functionality then add apps afterwards (for that matter you can trim Office bloat down to only what you need as well). Custom install has always been the way to go if you're concerned about disk space and streamlining performance.
On the other hand if you have good hardware (above minimal requirements for the OS etc.) the 'bloatware' factor is not even noticeable to start with. I'm talking i5/i7 with 64-bit Win7 OS, 64-bit Office 2010, and 8-12Gb RAM on an SSD drive or even a fast SATA one. People using dual- and quad-core Intel CPUs on IDE drives with 1 Gig or less of RAM (which, in some cases, shares with on-board video) will always whine.
That isn't 'bleeding edge' technology but defining 'bloat' as 'performance hit' means either you didn't trim down the OS/Office install and startup items/services OR your hardware is sub-par and you need to stay in a Win ME/98/XP world. This world is rapidly disappearing. I agree we have too many features and basic functionality that it is not as easy to get to or configure as it was in the days of 486 computers running DOS with Windows 95 thrown on top of it. But hey, the world moves on.
Users need to do the same or accept security risks inherent in an OS that is not being updated due to obsolescence and/or an OS that is open source. Quoting 'vendor app is not compatible' has no merit because vendors with decent developers keep up. Ant there's always another vendor of an app that will do the same thing that is compatible with the latest OS or version of Office.
As a Microsoft alumni let me tell you, the software world will always drive the hardware world into being better because the software is developed using state-of-the-art available hardware.
I can't support this concept of baseline software and feature packs for one simple reason: Who decides what features are bundled into the packs? Just one look at your cable television bill and you will quickly understand my point. How many of those channels are you funding when you never watch them, just to get at one or two that you like in the bundle? I'm unwilling to buy add-ons based on some marketing exec's idea of what needs to be sold. Give it to me in the current everything-at-one-time mode or give me baseline plus inexpensive single feature add-ons.