I use Linux Mint on all three of my computers. Its based on the latest Ubuntu but is probably more like Windows to use. I find it very simple to use and is great for standard things like internet (Firefox), email (Thunderbird) and office type things (OpenOffice by Sun). If you want to run windows games and other apps there is Wine (this stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator, but basically it is, pretty much!), which will let you run them directly under Linux. I have not used this, I just dual boot XP or Vista, which is easy to set up when you install Mint, and run these when I need to do things that I cant do in Linux. So far this extends to my usb TV tuner but if I was still doing computer geology, I would need to switch back to Windows for some of the apps I needed for that. Also includes an automatic update greebly to keep your software up to date, that I actually trust, unlike the one MS runs. :)
Two of the computers are notebooks. I dont usually hibernate them but the power handling is OK. Similar to windows. Suspend and hibernate are two of the options when shutting down, Ive just never bothered.
Networking the three computers and getting printers shared was probably as easy or as hard as in windows. It is working fine now and there is lots of good help on the net because basically it is the same as Ubuntu.
Pity you werent in Vic, we could have a coffee and I would show you my computers *:D