I've been using Ubuntu for many years and never seriously used Windows in my life. I recently installed Windows 8 after having a rant about Linux, and now I really have to say that Windows 8 is a mess.
Metro is okay, if uninspired. The classic desktop is okay, but once again uninspired. The real problem with Windows 8 is the join between Metro and the classic desktop; it's confusing, inconsistent and plain ugly. I'm having issues with it, too; Windows sometimes claims that my USB devices are malfunctioning and can't be used, so half the time I can't get onto the internet on Windows 8. Oh, and the text field I'm typing this message into on Internet Explorer doesn't even work properly. You know you're in trouble when your operating system doesn't even handle text.
Having a look at your system specifications, I'm pretty sure it won't run Windows 8 smoothly. However, you can't stay on Windows XP; XP wasn't even very good back when it was new, and it has aged badly. I am required to use Windows XP at work.
So, if you can't stay on Windows XP, and anything newer will cost you money and not run very well, what options do you have?
The obvious answer is Linux. As a Windows newbie I can say that Ubuntu has been far less trouble than this Windows 8 I've installed. Easy to set up, easy to use, nice and modern and featureful. It should run quite well on your computer and you'll be able to use it for pretty much everything.
I recommend Ubuntu as it's the only distro I've kept going back to, but Linux Mint is another well-known one that comes with batteries included (like multimedia decoder plugins and DVD decryption support). Not that those things are difficult to install on Ubuntu - they're not - but Linux Mint includes them so it's one less thing you need to do.
Today, anyone can install and use a Linux distribution like Ubuntu, and it requires no previous experience or extensive computer knowledge. In fact, it's probably better if you don't have much previous computer experience as you'll have to unlearn several Windows-specific habits.
My honest opinion is that you shouldn't bother buying Windows 8 as it won't run well, and will cost more than the benefit you will get from it. Instead, give Ubuntu or Linux Mint a try, and see how you go - I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you're not, you can always buy Windows 8 at a later stage.
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