I used replication a lot for about 7 years. This was all transactional replication, except for some(very little) ad-hoc snapshot replication. It certainly had some defects. I called it fragile, rather than brittle, because when it broke one generally didn't have to clean up the mess and start again from creating publications and subscriptions, one just had to mess about a bit and then get it going again, which only rarely would require even reinitialising a subscription. For many problems it was possible to write monitoring software to detect them and do the mesing about and restart (not reinitialise) a subscription - of course that had to be monitored to make sure that it didn't just keep trying again. But there were some really nasty bugs. MS may have fixed them in later versions - I never used replication on anything later than SQL 2000, except for some quick and dirty checks that what we had done before on 2000 would still work on 2008 - but I suspect not. As well as teh bugs, it was harder to use and manage than it ought to have been; and from what I've seen (and from Steve's article) it seems that MS hasn't done anything to make it easier. That's not a good thing. The documentation was prety terible too, but that may for all I know have improved.
But although replication has not improved as fast as MS's customers would like, MS does a lot better at improving hings than some other software suppliers. I remember one product from CISCO that incorporated MSDTC (the SQL 2000 name for SQL Express without tools). Not only did CISCO not provide enhancements, they didn't fix bugs; and they built the thing in such a way that it was impossible to apply MS's fixes to SQL Server, which was a big problem for anyone who used it. My big problem was that the envirenment in which user software added to the thing had to run had race conditions that were not resolvable in the user software, and CISCO was not going to fix them. But for some of its users perhaps it was an especially big problem early in 2003 when this malware
hit the internet, and owners of that product couldn't apply the fix MS provided because they were stuck with SQL Server 2000 RTM and no subsequent SP or fix could be applied. I saw similar (perhaps not as extreme as that one) problems with other products too. So let's not get too upset with MS about not improving everything, some others are worse.