Long story short, I decided to find another operating system and my first attempt was Linux, the free, open-source operative system (for those of you unfamiliar with Open Source operating systems: show me ).
Linux: The Good, the Bad, and The Verdict
The Good – The transfer to and installation of Ubuntu Linux was shockingly easy and refreshingly seamless. My computer is now blazingly fast, all of my hardware devices were instantly recognized (even my tablet screen) and, no more system crashes. Best of all, I can read and edit files from the part of my hard drive that runs Windows. In the past year, the Linux development community has really stepped up their user-friendliness game, and I would now recommend Linux to people with moderate computer skills.
The Bad – I still need Windows for a few programs. For instance, Linux's Microsoft alternative, Open Office , works for basic needs, but isn't truly backwards compatible with MS Office documents. If I’m working with an office document using any advanced features, I use MS Office to ensure anyone I send the document to can read it. Second, I've had some trouble viewing flash movies on the Internet (a problem which has been rightly joked about ). Last, Linux has not passed the ultimate litmus test for user-friendliness: easy enough for my parents to use.
The Verdict – Linux serves 90% of my computer needs. Only on occasion must I boot into Windows. Fortunately, dual-booting is now a built-in Linux feature, so readers shouldn't be intimated if they don't know how to run two operating systems. Also, supposedly, there is Windows emulation software (such as Wine  or Virtual Box), which may completely eliminate my need to boot into Windows – I am yet to figure out how to do this. Aside from these minor hiccups, my verdict is clear: Thumbs up, way up.
Why Didn't I go Mac?
1). Its Expensive – Should Linux fail to meet my needs, I suppose I can sell a Kidney to buy a $1500+ laptop. But, I'd sooner avoid unnecessary expenses in this never-ending recession.
2). I still run some Windows-only programs.
3). I've lost confidence in Apple. Their fascist iphone app store approval system  and continued reliance on Digital Rights Management (DRM) for Itunes makes me wary of adopting products that don't allow for flexibility.
So, if you’re using Windows and want to ditch it, click here to begin a less stressful life 
Follow me on twitter 
Schedule me for a speaking engagement: gferenst [at] uci dot edu