Recently I went on a week's vacation to "get away". When I got back, I had 3 Windows XP computers waiting to be fixed by a few family relatives. Not exactly a warm welcoming committee. The first one was fixed fairly easily, Windows Internet Connection Sharing settings disappeared and I had to guide over the phone on how to set that back up. The second PC was blue screening at random intervals, and the third was infected with spyware and viruses (with loads of popups), as well as running slower than ever. The PCs were basically useless and probably need to be reformatted and have Windows installed all over again.
However, for a while now I have been contemplating a new rule to deal with users and relatives bringing plagued Windows computers to me, in hopes that I can rectify them like a doctor. Basically, I can sum it up with "No, I will not fix your Windows computer, but I will install Linux on it for you.". So, I ran the idea of Linux by the users, who seemed open to trying out a new operating system that will be practically immune to spyware and viruses, and overall more stable so that they will not have to bring it back to me over and over again. They too have had enough of the viruses and spyware that occur all too often in Windows.
So, on the second PC which was blue screening, I promptly installed Fedora 13 and it's been running great. I went into System / Add/Remove Software and found a few games in there, and installed them. There were a few Windows games that I installed also with Wine, which run flawlessly. Fedora 13 includes Wine 1.2, which has a list of improvements over 1.1.x. So far, I'm very much impressed both with Wine 1.2, and with Fedora 13's incredible boot speed.
I will tackle the third PC next, which will be more of a challenge because I need to recover all of the data and files. I'm having the user try out the second Fedora 13 PC that I installed, to ensure there are no major roadblocks. If all turns out well there, I'll proceed with Fedora 13 on that one as well. Yes, there will be some minor training at first, however many of the applications are similar to proprietary products in Windows (if not the same as in Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.).
For basic users that want email, Internet access, basic Office software, and common applications, there is no reason to stick with Windows which is more expensive, and definitely more to maintain over the long run. And this is the message that I'm going to start passing along as I help users migrate from Windows to Linux.