Okay, since my situation is so similar to yours, I'll just explain what I do, and you decide if it sounds like something you'd want to try.
Right now, I'm typing on a Win7 machine, big 22" monitor, sitting maybe four or five feet away, in a recliner. At my immediate left is my XP machine, also on, also big monitor, with its own keyboard. Between them, is my TV monitor, which has enough plugs to plug into BOTH machines, so I can use it as a 2nd monitor with either the Win7 or the XP.
The XP is my main workhorse (I have seven, but this is #1). I do all the client work on it. The Win7 I'm typing on, is my internetter (the other 7 Win7's are offline). The client work has to be uploaded to the internet, so when I've done it, I just put it on an external drive or stick (which also serves as a backup but it's a live copy or clone). Then, plug that into my Win7, upload, done.
So not networked, no VM, or other too-complicated-to-use setup. One person, two machines, One TV in between to act as a second monitor for either (special button on the remote for the TV, toggles between the machines).
And, if I wanted, I plug one of my external Linux drives into either machine, in case I want to do Windows housekeeping better than Windows can do.
By the way, lots of old software runs in Win10. I use Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS via DOSbox, in Win10 64-bit, and also Lotus SmartSuite 9.8.2, and MS Office 2003, old Adobe Acrobat, even Windows 95 programs. So if you tell me something of the programs you want to run, maybe I have them and can pretest them in Win10 for you.
But frankly, Windows 7 is more configurable like XP, and sevenforums came up with the steps, if you'd rather get Win7. I have it set to Classic, just as my XP's are. Quick Launch, desktop tool bar. Windows 10 can't really do classic, there is no true Start Menu, but there are some limited customizations you can do with Quick Launch and desktop toolbar.
You can get good Win7 Pro machines for $300 or less in dellauction.com (direct Dell sale, so Dell itself refurbishes offlease machines, best are Latitude and Precision or Optiplex). Or, in Ebay (panyp proved a good seller, not sure about others). 4 GB ram, i5 (which works with XP, and you can get retail XP Pro OS unused for $25 in Ebay). My prefered lappies are Lat 6510, 6410, 6530, D630 (which is Core2 Duo, real workhorse). And all have interchangeable, slide-out drives with each other, and XP runs well on all of them, too. The 6530 is 2012 model, rest are several years older.
All of them work with Linux, too. None of them have to have special drivers, and all of them will work in Win10, plug and play. Every Win7 machine can get Win10 for free upgrade. But the reports of upgrade working, are not good -- unless there is no third party software or old MSFT software on the machine at the time the Win10 inplace upgrade installer, installs. That's what makes it smooth. So you can get Win7 now, and Win10 later, if you want.
Or, you can get Win7 machines new from Dell, Lenovo, HP, Amazon, etc. Many are still sold, with Win10 update rights, so you can try Win7 first. The new Dell ones I saw for Optiplex yesterday, were under $1,000. The lappies in any of the three vendors, went for $1,500 or less. But for Dell, don't get anything but Latitude, Precision (their maserati), or Optiplex (desktop). Their business class machines just listed, are very sturdy and very well made. Their other subrands (Inspiron, Dimension, three of which I have, and Vostro, Studio) -- are repeatedly reported to have problems.
Does this help in brainstorming solutions? If not, let me know and I'll try to do better!
Edited by brainout, 18 August 2015 - 12:59 PM.