I just came across an O’Reilly article about the reasons people switch to Linux, and how most people who switched did not do it out of hatred of Microsoft.
I’ve used Linux off and on since around 1996 or 1997, and am currently in one of the rare periods where there is no Linux box anywhere in my house. I think in a lot of ways it comes down to choosing the best tool for the job. In 1998 I built a dual-homed Redhat box to act as my firewall for my home network. At the time you could not just buy a Linksys router for $30 and Linux was a cheaper and better solution that Windows. When I decided I wanted to learn PHP and mySQL, the obvious solution was to stick a Linux box in the closet. When KDE became stable enough to actually use, and quit leaving core dump files all over the system, I started using Linux for my primary desktop. There was a couple year period where I hardly touched a Windows machine outside of work. As a computer science student, most of my labs have to be compiled to run on the schools Solaris machines, and being able to develop on Linux (using KDevelop, by the way) greatly increased my productivity compared to students who used Windows to edit files and had to copy them to the remote Sun box just to try to compile and debug. Right now I’m back to using Windows XP on my primary machine. I’m past most of the coding classes now, and the coding classes I have left are focusing on VB.Net. I’m also taking my communications classes that include assignments requiring specific features in Microsoft Office like tracking changes and embedding charts creating in Excel in Word docs. Right now Windows is the best tool for what I need to do. I still use Thunderbird as my mail client, and was even able to transfer my old messages and settings from my last Linux box to Windows.
So, after next summer I’ll be done with my degree and won’t have that to weigh on my OS decision. What will I choose? I just don’t know. If I’m still playing with c# in my spare time I might stick with Windows XP, or move to Vista. Then again I might just buy a Mac.