Been pondering how to describe Linux to someone who doesn't know much about it. I try not to mention MS or Mac in my description, it starts the unfair comparison mill a turning. When the well known are the bench mark, a new comer is at a disadvantage. Well Linux is not new, just under exposed. If you can examine things on their own merit, there is less baggage to set aside. We shouldn't always grab for the better until we see enough of it to make a valid judgment.
But having said that, if you don't want to mess up your Microsoft thing, the Linux live CD is the way to go. Other than that the closest you can get to what Linux is like is the applications that are common to both platforms. Open source software is a no-brainer. I've been using Open Office developed by Sun, IBM's Lotus Symphony, Abiword, and Kword. Macro language is the only big difference between these and MS Office. If you don't need it don't waste your money.
If you "google" you'll find it on the net, and it's free.
Well, I think the wait is over, I fixed my first laptop with Microsoft's Win7 on it. It was not the beta version. I only did a hardware power button fix but I did get to boot up Win7 and shutdown. Seems to be faster start up and shutdown and be a little less annoying while running. Annoying means bothering me with stuff I don't want to do at the moment. Since it wasn't my computer I haven't lived with Win7 so I can't tell if this pleasant encounter will sustain itself. This person did complain about not being able to shutdown the PC without it re-starting. My personal opinion is that mousepads are too touchy, triggering clicks when you just want to position the cursor. The mousepad should just move the cursor and let the keys do the clicking. If gestures are really used (double tapping, etc.) it would be less annoying if it discriminated between moving and clicking better. This is the very reason most still use a mouse. Gee, I wonder if you can tell a mousepad user from a mouse user? Maybe the fingerprints on their pad finger is worn away.
Here is an invention idea, "the laptop tray". You are sitting with your honey who's watching TV and complaining, "I'm lonely, come watch TV with me, don't stay in the other room at the computer." You got stuff to do, so you bring your laptop and mouse in the TV area. Balancing a laptop and mouse on a lap is awkward and being hunched over coffee table is worse. The laptop tray to the rescue. Looks like an ordinary dinner tray but wider. There is room for laptop and mouse movement, plus can be plastered with any theme deemed appropriate, all the while being useful as a snack server or food fight shield when needed as such.
I have heard it many times fixing computers, "my kids play with my laptop". It looks it! So, set the laptop in one place and get a remote keyboard for their use. Wireless or USB, the kids can use and abuse, spill, drop and cough on it. Your laptop will have less wear and tear.
There is a big issue in the world with user passwords that can be fixed with a simple statement. "Passwords should not be a word." Please don't give me that I need to remember it speech. With the speed of todays computers and the complexity of todays search algorithms, you can't rely on "only I know the name of my dog Tiny". Even tiny937c is weak. I won't tell you how to do it, you have to be creative like "t9i3n7yc". It has the same letters and numbers as tiny937c. You must realize that email, the internet, any network is open access until you the system admin or user closes the door. If you need to lock the door, don't leave the key around for the guy with the bar of soap. It is your privacy, you can't be nonchalant. If a typo can hold up your getting social security benefits, imagine what a hackers' computer "guess" will allow them to do. Now get in there and mix it up a bit!!