I too ditched Windows a ways back, for Linux & OSX. Loved 95, loved 98, I guess I was one of the few who actually liked ME, and flipped over XP. Didn't like Vista or W7 (stuck with XP), and when W8 came out I dropped my jaw, dropped my arms, and walked away.
If someone's looking to move from XP to Linux the first thing I'd recommend would be Mint with the Mate desktop. It's more XP-like than Vista or W7, and certainly more so than W8. If you want to use Linux and still need to run specific XP software the best thing is to run XP itself in a VM.
I'd like to add that if you're the DIY type you don't have to buy a Mac to go OSX. I did the Hack thing and if you do it right it works fine. I have a HP Probook and Gigabyte/i7 tower (both Mtn Lion), and a MSI/i7 tower running Mint with the Cinnamon desktop.