I recently got handed a nice Presario 2600 notebook by a friend. Apparently it was too slow to be usable, took 15 minutes to boot and was pretty much as useful as a stuffed rabbit with too many holes in it to contain its sandy filling. I booted up Knoppix and ran F-Prot over it, but apart from a couple of cookies no malware or rootkits. The machine had a Pentium 4 and 256 MB of Ram on board, so not particularly speedy compared to today’s machines, but still enough to run Windows XP comfortably. There were the usual unnecessary background applications, but even after switching these off, the machine only crawled along. Then it dawned o me: somebody thoughtful had installed the whole Symantec security suite. This would even slow a modern machine to a grinding halt, so after a quick save of the most important data I reformatted the drive, divided the partitions and reinstalled windows and (of course) Linux. The machine is now very happy to run XP again with the lovely free Avira suite guarding against malware (and of course Spybot S&D) and the owner is happy to use firefox, Opera and Openoffice. And as soon as the user is comfy with those applications on windows, the switch to Linux will be a doddle.
It doesn’t always to have to be a Linux with a sledgehammer: sometimes little steps are easier and less frustrating for the user.