I have been using Ubuntu for the last 4 years. It works great. I still have to use Windows at work because there simply aren’t any Linux versions of the proprietary software I am required to use and our IT department hasn’t gotten back to me about the possibility of virtualizing my Window’s environment. I think they are worried they will have to support two OS’es on the desktop or they simply are not familiar with Linux. Oh well. I still use it exclusively at home. In fact, I am using a Samsung Ativ 7 with Ubuntu 13.10 on it and everything worked out-of-the-box right after installation. No tweaks required.
I regularly install the OS on old computers for novices to use who just want to browse the web, buy something on Amazon or email their kids. It just works and no viruses or malware or degraded performance overtime or any of those other Window’s issues.
If you are going from Windows XP, give it a try. Use the Software Center to install new apps, and run your apps from the Launcher. Stay away from all the nonsense on the forums that may tell you to change the desktop manager or put another distro on your computer until AFTER you feel comfortable with Ubuntu and you feel adventuresome.
Come at it with an open-mind. Things will be different. Before you start looking online for ways to modify it so it behaves more like you want (or are used to), I suggest you get used to how it works before potentially breaking it. No one buys a $2000 Mac and then says, “I wish when I pushed a window to the left it would snap like it does in Windows.” They just deal with the differences. After all it’s not Windows.
With that said, once you get comfortable, Linux distributions have the most customizable desktops of all the OS’es. This is both a blessing and a curse. But for those who are up to the challenge and love their computer it can be well worth the effort for a beautifully customized system.