Hi Chrissie, Welcome to LQ
Although Linux has a similar interface to MS-W, it's not a drop in replacement, see http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm
. That is to say, although you can certainly get your work/home stuff done, it cannot natively run MS apps. Instead, there are native Linux apps for almost anything you want eg http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/...ndows_software
(If you absolutely must have a specific MS-Win app that you can't find a replacement for, there are various options, but let's leave that till later.)
All of this (Linux) is free to download and run with no restrictions on using or copying.
A good place to check for which version (distribution aka distro) is http://distrowatch.com/
. Almost anything in the top 10 in the Hit Page Ranking liston the right is worth a look.
For ex-MS users, I beliive current favourites are Ubuntu, mint, xubuntu.
You will definitely get other suggestions; it's highly subjective.
Also have a look here at LQ for the many many threads marked 'which is (best) linux distro for me'; it's probably the most popular qn.