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There is a HW Compatibility list here http://www.linuxquestions.org/hcl/
You should probably try a few LiveCD distros; these are versions of Linux distros that run purely from the CD/DVD and do not install on your HDD.
Some Live CDs do offer an install option, but in any case, they are a good way to test your HW.
You can see www.distrowatch.com for a long list of distros; normally ex-MSwin users are initially directed to MS alike distros like Mint.
This reduces the shock see http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm
Usually apps on windows will not run on linux, so you either need to find a counterpart (like MS Office - libreoffice), or run it under wine - or you must use windows. Usually the hardware is ok, it was explained already.
Is there any software that will check my system and verify Linux compatibility? Or will I need a list of compatible equipment?
Unless your hardware was released only in the last couple of months, I'd be very surprised to find that it's not compatible with Linux. Even then, the kernel will likely include updated drivers for your hardware very soon. The best test is to try it as suggested by others above, especially since it doesn't cost anything other than some of your time and a blank disk or two for creating any installation disks.