Last week, I downloaded the beta release of Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) to give it a try. I've been meaning to migrate our last Windows XP machine over to Linux for some time now (the other three computers I use regularly are Linux machines), but I've been reluctant to backup, repartition, and take the plunge. It seems like this is a common feeling among computer owners, but I think the Ubuntu community may have found an effective solution.
And the name of this new innovation: Wubi. Pop in the Ubuntu CD while running in Windows, and an auto-run installer opens which allows you to install Linux alongside Windows. When you reboot your computer, you see a menu of which operating system to boot into: Windows or Ubuntu. This means you can try out Ubuntu on your computer with zero risk to your existing files. In fact, you can access the files on your Windows installation from within Ubuntu. And if you decide Ubuntu is not your you, you can uninstall it as you would any other Windows program. Pretty slick.
Managing in the installation is just the beginning of the improvements the team has made. After I installed the latest version and booted into Ubuntu, it told me that there were propriety drivers for my NVIDIA graphics card and asked if I wanted to install them. I clicked the button, the download started, and I was up and running with 3D accelerated graphical desktop effects. I think I could sit there opening and closing windows all day. I'm looking forward to the upcoming official release.