What Linux distro
> So, genuinely, what distro and apps should I pick .. Can the Linux fans persuade me to give it another go, or will they just hit the downvote button for daring to admit I don't know enough about the OS?
Give Ubuntu a go, it's the most polished desktop distro out there in my opinion. The apps come as standard with the distro, browsing, email, office, media player. You can get it on CD off the back of any Linux Mag. There is one app that doesn't come as standard, that's an Anti-Virus app.