Just to chime in, I know that people would just like their computer to work and not have to tweak and fiddle with it. Why wouldn't you? At the risk of repeating a refrain that has been around a long time....why not install a linux distro as dual boot? Ubuntu and others have live CD's that you can try. Some have installers that start from Windows. You can still have Windows until you get used to Linux, and yes there are some essential programs for Windows that don't have counterparts in linux (or don't run under emulators). However, I started dual booting more than 15 years ago when 'X' was the only desktop. The distros have improved immensely since then. IMHO, Libre office is fine for most tasks, and GIMP does well for most graphics work although it does have a steep learning curve. If you boot linux every day though, and spend an hour with it, before long, you'll find yourself using it more and more. Then one day, you'll realize suddenly that you know more about your linux o/s than it is even possible to learn about Windows.
Depending on your particular needs, it may be a while before you get used to it, but if your wife is just browsing, using email, or playing music and videos, it shouldn't be a long learning curve. My wife actively resisted using any PC's until about two years ago. When she finally decided to give it a whirl, I set up an older Pentium laptop for her with only Mandriva on it (eventually switched it to Lubuntu). She is a whiz on it and has never even been exposed to windows.
One last point, I never had a problem with software companies making a profit for their hard work, but like many (most) other consumer situations today, you have no choices. You have to buy what they want to sell you. Development is driven by a model premised on maximizing revenue in the shortest possible time rather than going for long-term customer satisfaction. The latter model IMHO will eventually bring greater profits and revenue, but it just takes too long for today's "bird-in-the-hand" mentality corporate weenies.
Free software is not about not paying for it; it is about getting what you want or need.
Brian, #1 Joan Jett Fan