My perspective is that there is a requirement from users that they can easily install packages (and from projects - it’s not like a project that can’t be installed is much use!). For better or worse, a lot of users (particularly in Windows environments1) don’t have the tools available that are needed to build projects they want to use - and it’s not reasonable to expect them to, to be honest.
So, I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable for users to expect prebuilt packages. And let’s be honest, conda and Anaconda are proof of that, their business is built on supplying prebuilt packages.
I’m not sure there is an expectation that prebuilt packages means wheels. Rather, I think that the people complaining know that there are other options available (conda, distribution supplied packages, …) but that they are unsuitable for them - and I think we should be asking why that is, rather than simply dismissing the problem as just being one of inaccurate user expectations.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a perception that prebuilt binary = wheel, but rather I’m saying that characterising it as nothing more than a perception issue doesn’t give us a useful way of addressing it. Understanding the user requirements behind that expectation might do so - and it’s the projects that can’t ship wheels that have access to users who can answer those questions, so maybe they could do more to understand the problem and communicate it to the people designing the installation tools and standards? After all the “packaging community” by definition includes the people producing actual packages, so it’s not like their views would be unwelcome (at least I’d hope not!)
1 I’d actually love to see a breakdown of how badly the “shared library” issue hits users, based on platform. My (biased) perception is that Windows mostly doesn’t have an issue, but Linux has huge problems. But that’s as a Windows user for whom everything just works fine, seeing bug reports from Linux users but never success reports from them. So I’m pretty sure my perspective is inaccurate - as, I suspect, would be any individual’s, so we need more objective measures to help us get data here