It's also fairly well known that those who knows me, also knows that I've ran Linux MInt a long time, for over 5 & a half years. And it's been since very early 2012 since I made a transaction on Windows, though I do use the OS on forums, mainly to assist other Windows users, as well as keeping my Speccy specs updated in my sig.......no Linux equivalent for that one, to my knowledge. As an Advisor, also cannot "cut the cord", as Wiz smartly did, really it's the best way to learn.
Most all of my general purpose browsing, email reading & some of my forum activity is also on Linux Mint 17 MATE 64 bit. Linux MInt is widely regarded as close as a drop in replacement for Windows as it gets. No one has to give up Windows to run LInux, as I didn't myself, though for a period I did.
Linux OS's can also be ran on Windows via VirtualBox, however I cannot vouch that it's as secure than on it's own partition or bootable media. Most all Linux install media doubles as a Live Internet session, that's designed to give the potential user to try before deciding & to ensure hardware compatibility.
I have to agree 100% with the OP, whom I know as Wiz, that Linux is the answer to many of the threats going on today.
Users does not have to pay for extra security with Linux.
Computers boots much faster & so does software with LInux.
The latest versions of Linux MInt & Ubuntu has support for TRIM, for those with SSD's. GParted on the install media will align partitions & they'll be right.
If one wants to dual boot Linux with Windows & already have 3 Primary partitions (system, main or "C" & recovery), that's fine, Linux installs & runs from Logical partitions.
Linux requires much less maintenance, no Disk Cleanup or Defrag needed, the file system is designed to stay organized & stay clean. The more one runs their Linux install, the faster it gets.
The one thing need the most for security is enabling the ufw Firewall after install & reboot, before update check. In the Start Menu, the Terminal will be seen. Click on it, it'll look like a "cmd" box, type "sudo ufw enable" & you'll be prompted for password. It's normal not to see any movement when this is entered, another security feature.
Finally, for a file to infect Linux, your root password has to be manually entered, this is for any executable file. Even System Update requires this.
If everyone just tried Linux with an open mind for one hour using the built in Firefox or adding Google Chrome (hey, bookmarks & extensions transfers if synced), my guess is that at least 5% would make the switch. Firefox & Google Chrome, as well as Opera, works the same as on Windows. A few extensions designed for Windows only won't transfer.
For those who absolutely need MS Office, there's WINE to handle it. However, LibreOffice will more than do the job for many users, especially non-professionals & will convert most MS Office files, with a few exceptions. However that would likely affect just a small percentage of Windows users.
In closing, I ask all to be open minded & just give LInux a try. You may be surprised at just how much better your computer runs, even the newer low spec ones (those with recent Celeron, Pentium & A-4 CPU's), as well as most all computers that shipped with Windows XP or above. Some PC users may need to upgrade a CPU or graphics card to run the latest titles. CPU's for older computers can be had on eBay for as little as $10, sites such as Newegg always has promos on graphics cards. Those with computers designed to run Vista & up should be able to run the latest Linux titles.
And with Linux, most of the EULA days are over. Only a few apps requires a EULA.
Come & join the Linux family, and be free!