Interesting. I'm running three Unraid servers that use Linux which I control via command line since it's very close at least by 'look and feel' to the BSD Unix that I worked with in another life. But I'm still using Windows for desktop and PVR and would like to seek asylum somewhere in the Linux world especially since M$ appears to have totally lost the plot with its OS. The obstacle preventing me from jumping ship so far is that many of the apps that I use alot like *cough* AnyDVD don't come in a Linux flavour (or even Mac come to that).
Is there any hope for those of us fleeing from persecution? I'll read this whole thread if I have to but a link to a Windows Asylum Seekers Guide for Dummies would be very useful.
Debian, which is pretty basic, is the one I use but sometimes needs a bit of tweaking.
Ubuntu and it's variants are probably quite good, but the one that seems to most popular amongst beginners ATM and that I've heard good things about is Mint, this has the majority of drivers working out of the box and a choice of desktops. If you liked XP then I recommend the XFCE one.
Most Linux distributions will give you the option of installing it alongside alongside Windows once you have made some space on the disc for a new partition (or have an additional disc), and on booting will give you a choice between the various operating systems. Linux can read Windows partitions so data can be accessed or even transferred over. A word of warning though, this new bootloader (GRUB) will replace your old Windows one so it's best not to uninstall Linux. Otherwise, your Windows installation will remain intact and accessible.