Microsoft still supports XP and for people with old hardware it might be a good idea to stick with the older OS. That being said I have run Windows 7 Ultimate x64 for over a year and a half including betas and the RC and now retail and there is NO way I would ever go back to XP. Windows 7 is better in every way. I have had 0 problems with it since the first install.
Windows 7... most deff.
If you plan on your PC being 'future proof' (or @ least resistant) you need to go w/ an OS that is DirectX 10 compatible, and Win7 is it.
Also for gaming, if you want more than 4 gb of RAM, then you need an x64 OS. And the best one is Win7. XP x64 is a joke.
That is not really true. Windows XP is 9 years old at this point but with the 3 service packs is no longer even close to the orignal operating system that was released in 2001.
Windows 7 is just now approaching it's first year of release. It fixes many of the headaches of the older OS. You no longer have to go driver hunting for what seems like days to get all your devices to work. Also Windows 7 has DX11 support as opposed to Windows XP and DX9. If gaming is your first priority you sure want the newest DirectX.
Windows XP 64 bit also had many issues especially with drivers. Windows 7 has fixed those problems.......and since you need a 64bit OS to use more than 3.25GB of RAM it makes sense to use the newer Windows 7. Do not forget you will have to pay for XP as well. Why spend money on a 9 year old OS.
No you do not get Word. That is part of Office and a seperate purchase. If you do not have the money then I recommend OpenOffice.org. It will do almost everything that Microsoft Office will and it is free.
If you want to game, your ONLY choice is windows, and you might as well get win7. I have it and it is MUCH better than XP. The UI is much nicer, the programs and applications that come with it are better, it is easier to use... good stuff.
I am dual booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04, and I absolutely love my Ubuntu installation (IMO linux > win), but installing games on it is extremely difficult... Linux can be frustrating in general to use. If you want a simple, hassle-free OS, get Windows 7.
+1 for Open Office, I love it, paying for MS word is a joke...