Actually, this is one area that Windows 8 actually achieves something; For (what I believe to be) the first time in Microsoft history, the new system as the same hardware requirements as the old system. Then again, the old system had rediculous disk space, RAM, and CPU requirements, so perhaps my arguement isn't valid. I'll let you good people decide that for your selves.
However, I do believe GNU/Linux systems can be much easier than Windows 8 for non-tech-savy users. It's true that these people might have a harder time with GNU/Linux than Windows XP, but I can't Windows 8 being any easier.
At least with GNU/Linux systems, there are fewer drastic gui changes than with Windows (at least in my experience). If such a large change occurs, someone will probably find a way to bring the old GUI back, making everyone's lives easier.
However, the arguement that these systems can't do everything "out of the box" as easily as Windows isn't entirely valid. If you want to play an OGM video, you'll likely need third-party codecs (I've seen plenty of malware disguised as codecs). If you want to work with spread sheets, you'll need to install spread sheet software.
That said Ubuntu seems to come with a varity of codecs to play almost anything (thank you Libav!). Ubuntu also comes with LibreOffice, so you can use/create/modify a variety of documents out of the box! Although I've only ever used Ubuntu for "serious" computing, I imagine that this logic applies to most GNU/Linux systems.
And, let's not forget that even novices can benefit from Freedom-respecting software. As Richard Stallman would say, if you don't have the skills to modify your (presumably Free) software, you can always hire someone else to do so for you (assuming there isn't already a fork out there with the changes you wanted).
To make life even better, one can also install WINE, enabling your system to run an increasing number of Windows programs.