Customer demand for a ubiquitous InfoPath runtime

The last time I asked Microsoft why there's no plan to make the InfoPath runtime ubiquitous, the answer I got was: "We don't hear customers asking for it." Well, I do. Here's a typical rant from one customer who, because his company has a relationship with Microsoft that he doesn't want to jeopardize, asked me to anonymize his comments:

I believe a primary requirement of a forms application is to make it possible for the form to be completed by a wide audience of people from whom I wish to gather data. A key driver, at least in the world of my customers, is to be able to distribute the form widely to people who aren't necessarily connected to the network and get them to fill it in and return it. I don't want to authenticate these people in my network. They won't install software on their computers just to fill out my form. They don't want to learn a new application.

It seems InfoPath has completely ignored the question of how the form will actually be filled in by the responder. There is no free viewer as there is with Adobe Acrobat. There is no ability to save the form template as an ASP.NET web form. It appears that Microsoft expects everyone to purchase a full copy of InfoPath--the complete form design application--just so they can fill out a form. They can't possibly believe the product will gain any traction with this licensing and deployment model, can they? [1] What are they thinking? [2]

So my main question is, is there any way to deploy InfoPath forms without putting full InfoPath on every desktop? [3] Do you know whether Microsoft understands this issue and are planning anything to address it? [4] The two applications that are widely available on everyone's desktop are a web browser and Adobe Acrobat, and it seems like it would be a good idea for InfoPath to support forms deployment via one of those means. Am I missing something here? [5]

My answers were "I don't know" [1], "I don't know" [2], "No" [3], "Apparently they don't see a problem and aren't planning to do anything" [4], and "We're in the same boat: I don't get it either." [5]

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