you can partition a hard-drive to run both windows and linux. linux has a small foot print -- chuck keeps talking about running his on an old 386? as soon as i get the money together for hardware to set up a network so my son can use the extra windows box i need as a back up for work, i'll run linux on a 486.
http://www.netraverse.com/products/win4lin30/overview.php there are other products, tho
you can also set up a second linux box and network it with your windows box. you can use the linux box for the basic stuff-- word processing/text editor, email, browsing, etc.)--and then use the windows box or a laptop (tho that can be bad for RS injuries) for those progs you can't find reliable substitutes for.
heck, the NYT is featuring www.linux-hacker.net lately. the guy is hacking net-appliances sold for 99$ so they can run linux. ha!
at them moment, i can't think of a prog that doesn't have an equivalent non-MS product. staroffice is a free download. i think max uses it, right? i downloaded it two years ago, posted to the list about it. KDE and Gnome both offer purty GUI's and full office suites, as well as presentation software and graphics software. dennis is using Redhat and seems to be doing fine writing a dissertation! you can use PCPine for mail.
the bigger problem is the steep learning curve. no matter what anyone says. afterall, part of the whole dick swinging scene here is the trick of simultaneously maintaining that _anyone_ can do it AND dissing people who don't get it and ask questions.
people who are geeks tend to forget their roots. but that's true of lefties too. so.
btw, speaking of s-r, Ian, your posts lately are hot-damn ace! what's gotten into you lately!?