17 years ago when i began working in information technology as a college student i purchased a "laptop" (not exactly what you’d pickup today) with dos 5.0 on it. in the early 90s i purchased a desktop with dos and windows 3.1 on it and used this as my home system well into my it career. i purchased windows 95 as soon as it was released (i was actually in seattle the day it was released, but didn’t have a computer capable of running it with me so i had the software and nothing to load it on until we returned home). as i left my last full time it administration job (working for dekalb genetics in dekalb, il) i was asked to put in a proposal to build their seed showcase on the internet. i estimated the project based on what i would need to purchase a new desktop powerful enough to run the microsoft software i would need to complete the project. these days microsoft has a site that at least helps you out on the software end of the equation. check out channel8 and dreamspark – the hardware is not provided, but the software to create great projects and learn is!