The alternative to TeX is Microsoft Word. Good luck with that.
My problem with the current version of
(La-)TeX is that it's pretty brittle.
Some documents run well on different
systems, others don't work at all.
Backwards compatibility of Word documents breaks after a few release cycles. LaTeX has been stable for 25+ years.
It's hard to make sure the necessary
fonts and macros are available.
Word doesn't search for fonts either. That's a operating system issue.
It's not hard to make macros available. At the very least all you have to do is put the package file in the same directory as the document file. Every distribution also comes with a default user location to put macro files.
flavors of TeX support TTF fonts,
So...use the ones which do?
Installing fonts for TeX
either works or it doesn't - if it
doesn't work, there is little that
John Doe can do.
On my machine I double-click a TTF font and the OS installs it in my font library. XeLaTeX finds that font with zero problem.
Distributions like MiKTeX and TeX Live
try to make this a little bit less
painful but they also don't auto-heal
(like automatically downloading macros
needed by a document),
There aren't macros in word files like in TeX files, but Word doesn't auto-heal either. If the file uses fonts that aren't on the machine, it won't get them automatically.
are often completely useless to anyone
but a TeX pro.
h command at a message provides the best possible guess to the source of an error. But the same objection could be given to many languages.
There was an effort to rewrite TeX in
a more model programming language like
Java. What happened to that? Or to use
XML as input format to get rid of the
odd bugs introduced by escaping and
By "odd bugs introduced by escaping and quoting" you mean in users' input files? That's not the fault of TeX, and changing the input file format is not going to fix PEBKAC errors. The TeX developers have fixed 9 bugs in 10 years.
Maybe this is a bit of a strawman argument since you didn't propose Word as a substitute, but I don't think your objections are unique to *TeX or warrant replacement.