Off the shelf software is great, but Windows is not open source and, therefore, many of us have to rely on Microsoft for expensive upgrades and/or fixes. The limits to open source code are nonexistent, and the speed at which Linux runs is flat out faster than any Windows install running on the same hardware. Since Windows tries to be all things to all people, its bloated resource needs simply cannot compete with a Linux install where the user gets to pick and choose the applications and the options he or she desires. The virus issues Microsoft has to deal with are a real problem, one which Linux users seldom see because the virus writers concentrate on the low hanging Microsoft fruit and never take the time or make the effort to hack Linux. Even if they did, there is an army of open source Linux devotees out there who would correct the problem in a matter of minutes versus the hours or days that it takes Microsoft to fix. Sorry to disagree, but I have used Windows for years (DOS before that) and I truly believe the best OS is Linux..the price is great (FREE) and the Linux community is incredibly supportive. Just try it and you will be pleasantly surprised. Ubuntu 11.10 is free for downloading over the net. Get it and burn yourself an image copy. You won't be disappointed.
You will be disappointed as soon as you find out what does not work with it. As far as expensive upgrades and fixes. For what? Vista 64 bit will be viable fore many years yet and Win7 even longer. As far as speed if Linux runs a lot faster on your box it is because you lack resources (CPU and ram) to run Windows 64 bit proper. There is not "magic" about Linux needing less resources because GUI supports much less and is far more limited and lacks extensive PnP support that takes code and hardware too. Claiming Linux is a better choice it just like buying a car with fancier paint of tires from hype without actually driving it. Open source is good and bad here because it supports the lack of a universal and well defined GUI to write programs for. Too many flavors of Linux out there. If you really want to play with linux just get a nice quad core system with 6 to 8 gig of ram and 64 bit Vista or Win7 and Virtual PC. This will let to run a play with Linux (or XP even Win98) in a virtual machine and not screw up bread and butter Windows box