At home, I've got more leeway to select my own preferred PC and OS. I've been using various distributions of Linux since 1997 (see my review here in 1998 ) mostly Slackware, Red Hat (Fedora), and Ubuntu. But I still get to be a bit of a system admin at home since my wife is using Windows XP and my daughter is using Mac OS X Snow Leopard . Currently, I'm using a somewhat customized version of Ubuntu 9.04, and am looking at upgrading to 9.10.
I doubt most people have ever had to install or upgrade Windows since it's generally provided pre-installed. Well, recently, I had to install Windows - wow - what a PITA, much harder to install than Ubuntu! Now, this took me by surprise since I've been mostly installing and upgrading Linux at home and hadn't done a fresh installation of Windows in quite a while. (I have to admit, I do like Windows XP. It's our current standard at work, and it seems to be very stable and usable. We use a company standard network installed image at work whenever possible, so even at work, I had avoided a full up installation for quite some time.)
So, if you're going to buy a new PC, or have been looking at buying the next Windows upgrade, do yourself a favor and try Linux first. I'd recommend downloading and trying one of the "Boot from CDs" distributions so that you can try it out. Here's some links to the most popular distributions:
The CD images can take a while to download. Once you have a CD, try booting and using Linux so that you can check to ensure that all of you PC hardware (especially wireless) works properly. Honestly, Linux has reached the point where everything "just works" even more often then with Windows Vista or 7, and these distributions come with all the applications you will need to have a decent PC for browsing the Internet, at school, or for a home office, and it has had all the trick "Aero" graphics features for the last couple of years so you don't have to go out and buy a new PC or laptop just to get all the cool graphics effects. Plus, Linux is a bit more efficient with PC hardware, so your dog slow PC will run like new again.