andy_landy wrote:no. for most users the operating system is completely irrelevant. what is important is the applications the want to use.
... which is why they will more than likely require Windows. MS Office is an industry standard in schools and businesses everywhere. Also most add-on devices supply Windows drivers. You'll have to look around for others. For most home/business users, Windows remains the only real choice. Linux, in whatever distro, is an option for MS haters, PC geeks and tech rebels. (But the most attractive feature is of course that a lot of the software is open-source (free))
also really not sure i can agree with the recommendation of installing xp, unless the OP wants to use an old version of microsoft office (the current version of office requires windows 7 of higher). nothing wrong with using an older version of office per se, until you come to share your files with other peopls using newer version of office, and then you run into all the same openoffice-style subtle incompatibilities as above.
... expect of course that the standardised Office 97-2004 formats (which existed during XP's tenure) are the most standard types of all. The docx formats the current generation uses cause far more issues than the older formats ever will.
Calm down about XP, people. It's a definite option for underpowered hardware. However, at the end of the day, Sarah should really be looking at a laptop no more than 4 or 5 years old anyway, which should be loaded with Windows 7.
Sarah...Computer OSs, formats and applications are not definitive. Techy people all have their own solutions, and, as you can see, often disagree in their delivery.
One must always be wary of the march of the right-wing. I advocate public flogging/confiscation of assets/rehoming of their young