In this article I'm going to talk about another operating system besides Windows (2000, XP, Vista, etc.). In fact, there's plenty of other OS's available, some of which are better than Windows in many ways. I'm going to touch on one of them -- Linux, and a popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu.
Understand what an operating system (OS) is. A computer (every type of it) has hardware. Something has to use this hardware to manipulate it for user (your) needs. That manipulator is an operating system. It makes the screen shine, makes the keyboard work and so on.
Know Linux and how it's made. Linux is an operating system. Windows is made and you have it. Linux is made and you can customize it. Of course, it's not needed for you to customize it. There's a big variety of already customized Linux versions to choose from. Those are called distributions (or shortly distros). One of them is made for system admins, others are made for being used in Microsoft Office, some for games, some for testing and some just for fun. Here, I'll write about Ubuntu, the most popular and (looks like) the most user-friendly one for daily use.
Try Ubuntu Linux. This distribution is the most popular one. It is easy to use, has a user-friendly interface and works just great. It's a great alternative for Windows.
Linux, in general, is a base system. All you see on your monitor (some windows, programs opened, exploring a folder, etc.) is a desktop environment (sitting on an operating system, of course). Linux has several desktop environments. Ubuntu uses a so-called Gnome. There's another Linux distribution called Kubuntu. This one uses a desktop environment called KDE. And there's one more Ubuntu based Linux distribution -- Xubuntu, which uses the XFCE desktop environment. Which should you choose? It is a big question and I will not answer it here. If you don't know which will suit your computer best, no need to bother, you'll be able to easily try out each one after any (Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Xubuntu) install.
Consider using the best -- Ubuntu. First of all, it's free. You'll save your money if you use Linux.
Secondly, it's safe. Windows was made without security in the beginning. It took a while before they thought that security was needed. Antivirus software just covers the top of the operating system but is not truly inside of it. Linux is made with security from the beginning. You have to mess up pretty bad to get security issues. Linux asks for a password for almost every serious action.
After you have Ubuntu, it's easy to use. You may have heard that it's not, but that's not true. Ubuntu Linux is very easy. It supports many languages, has a great documentation, many forums and other helpful users.
Linux is very customizable. You can easily make it look like Windows Vista or Mac OS X. You can simply add software you want and change the behavior of Ubuntu.
If you're not a gamer, not a video editor or photographer, if you use you computer to check e-mail, surf the net, watch movies or listen to music, I suggest you use Ubuntu Linux. You'll save money and you'll have a fascinating operating system.
You can spend two hours and have Windows, but you can also spend a few days and have what you really want.