I'll try to give the best explanation I can. My primary OS is Ubuntu (GNU/Linux), and I am more than a little biased towards it. Also, I haven't used Vista RTM yet, but I used builds 5546 (Pre-RC1), 5600 (RC1), 5728 (September 2006 CTP) and 5744 (I think that's what the number was; RC2) extensively as my primary OS for a few months. Personally, I am not at all a gamer, so that made the transition much easier for you. I will be honest - Wine and Cedega's compatibility levels are not nearly perfect. Wine is still technically pre-release software, and for good reason: it is too incomplete to be release quality software. I've never used Cedega, and it might be better, but it forked from a version of Wine that is many years old (the last one to use the permissive X11/MIT license that allows them to make Cedega completely proprietary without making any upstream contributions) and thus is quite different. Also, there is Crossover Office, which recently hit version 6.0. It is based on Wine, but sends all patches it makes to Wine back to the Wine project, so in terms of actual Windows app compatibility, they are pretty much neck and neck. However, Crossover makes it much easier to install some common software (including a few games) by auto-downloading and installing needed software dependencies. They're bottle functionality is nice too, but easy to replicate in vanilla Wine. I liked Vista when I used it, but not enough to justify spending $400 on it just yet. It (the pre-release builds) ran just as well as XP SP2 (which I currently dual-boot with Ubuntu) on my hardware, although it needed me to readyboost (an excellent feature of Vista that Ubuntu doesn't need) my 512mb USB flash drive or I would have a heck of a time doing anything. Not at all to my chagrin, Aero doesn't run on my laptop. I personally don't care about that fancy eye-candy; if I did, I'd be using OS X, right? That being said, I have messed around with Compiz, Beryl, and XGL (I think it is AIXGL on Ubuntu, actually) a bit, and they (coincidentally?) ran fine on my nVidia card with 32 megs of vram. However, the eye-candy is something I have no problems going without, and don't have installed right now. Besides, the nVidia driver to run them makes VMWare Server crash. If you want some moderate eye-candy, but not the OS X or Aero type, then you can easily get that done without any of the aforementioned software. There are two main desktop environments for GNU/Linux and other UNIX-Like systems, like FreeBSD (which is a wonderful OS if you have the time to dedicate to it, but that's another debate): Gnome and KDE. KDE is *full* of eye-candy at default (although minus translucently and the like, and thus you don't need that good of a video card to run it, just a decent processor [i have a pent. 4 at 3.0 GHz myself]), and Gnome is more buisness-like, streamlined, and light. Both can be expanded heavily to meet your eye-candy desires. I personally run Gnome with gDesklets and make it look like this: I haven't customized it that much (trust me, you should see what you can do with Gnome and KDE), but it provides be just the right amount of eye-candy for my productive liking. And I have a fast enough CPU to make it (and KDE) fly. KDE is more heavy, and a bit of a combination of Windows layout and OS X styling. I have it installed, too. It has some of the best apps in the world, such as Amarok, K3b, and KTorrent, and I use them without issue under Gnome. It is your choice. A lot of new GNU/Linux users prefer the simplicity of KDE and start (and stay) there. It just depends on personal preference. As an OS in general, I can say that I like GNU/Linux (Ubuntu and Debian in particular), as well as FreeBSD and the like, much better than Windows. I feel like I am learning something with Ubuntu, and I am a much better computer user because of it. The terminal is just pure power; you might discover that once you master a few basic commands, you can do tasks in half the time compared to a clunky GUI. Don't try to compare it to the DOS prompt in Windows; Bash shell is completely different. I also enjoy knowing that I am running free software (as in freedom, libre, not price), and am not being locked into one company. The learning curve was negligible (although I've always been computer inclined), and the benefits were innumerable. If you do decide to give GNU/Linux a shot, I highly recommend Ubuntu. Mepis and Linspire or Freespire might be good choices, too, but in the end, I like Ubuntu due to it's ease of use (just as easy as Mepis and Linspire, despite what they say), large community, and commitment to free software. The install CD for Ubuntu also functions as a LiveCD, meaning you can put the CD in, restart the computer, and boot into Ubuntu from the CD without modifying any files, but to really get the feel for it, you have to install it. VMWare is a good choice; also, setting up a dual-boot with Vista and/or XP is quite easy (just follow the directions to install and it will configure a dual-boot for you). Also, if you think that KDE would be better than Gnome for you, than grad a Kubuntu CD instead. If you install it, here are some tips: Download Automatix. It will help you install codecs for DVDs, mp3, etc. very easily, as well as Flash Player, Google Earth, and more. Click Applications -> 'Add/Remove' in Ubuntu (Gnome), or the equivalent in Kubuntu (don't remember what it is right now). Browse through software to install and give it a shot. Here is some that I highly recommend: Amarok - the __BEST__ audio player. Ever. k3b - the best CD burner ever kTorrent - the best torrent app (for download legal stuff, which is what I use it for) ever. Opera - if you like the Opera browser better than Firefox, then go ahead and download it. AbiWord - an excellent word processing app. Do a little research on terminal commands and play around a little. Browse through and/or post on the Ubuntu Forums. Bottom Line: Be bold and give it a shot. I hope this post helped!