I agree use Linux. The last time windows was my main os was win 95. I had a dual boot up to about ten years ago. I completely dumped windows and haven't regretted a thing. The Linux os is much better but the big thing is when I have some issue like you are having finding out why is easy. With windows it's like trying to put a complicated machine together blindfolded with boxing gloves on.
I know it's a big step to drop what you are familiar with and use something you know nothing about. So you can either add a hard drive to your computer and setup a dual boot system or, if your hard drive is big enough, you can repartition the drive to get space back and install Linux on the new space then dual boot. Feel free to send me a PM and I will help you all I can. It's well worth the effort.
My wife used to work as a teacher for AOL. She used my Linux box once and asked me if I could put Linux on her computer. She used it once and saw how much better it was. Yes you do have to learn different things. You are going into a Unix type world. It is different then windows but not that much different. There is only one windows but there are many types, called distros, for Linux. You can start out by taking a look at distrowatch.com . The number of distros will make your head swim. To give you an idea I have 11 computers in my house. I don't have cable TV but I do have a computer that is attached to my TV. On that one I run OpenSuse. On that one I get videos from the internet like Pbs, Hulu and YouTube. As well as downloading a LOT of old movies from the archives. The laptop I use the most is a Debian Linux machine as is my main desktop. I use Slackware for the server that runs both the wired and wireless branches of my network. My daughter does a lot of Music and uses Debian for the Midi and audio programs. My son is 12 and likes to play games on line and uses OpenSuse. My wife uses Ubuntu. Ubuntu was made from debian. I don't like it. It has taken away alot of what makes a Unix like system so powerful but it is easy to maintain if you want your system to be controlled by the wishes of someone else. In the end it's all about freedom. Free as in speech and Free as in beer.