The oldest machine I own is a 486 at 50 MHz with 8MB of RAM. I loved that machine. It's the computer I learned to use computers on. It had DOS and Win 3.1. Well, I hate Windows today, but I used to love it. At that time, Win was only a program and the best thing about it was that YOU controlled the software, not the other way around. At that time, there was no Internet and therefore fewer security issues, but I used to catch a virus from time to time. Usually, I could track it and delete it. Or maybe, just copy my stuff, a few config files, and reinstall everything from scratch.
Yes, for back in the old days, computers used to sell with a blank hard drive and some original floppies which you could copy and use all the times you wanted. Win 3.1 knew who was the boss. You told it what to do: it did it. It took no initiative. Word was serious and fast too (no yellow jumping dogs). It did the same things it does today, but it charged faster on that old box than today's version on a machine with ten times the RAM.
Win 95 was the beginning of the end for me. I used my old box the way it was for as long as I didn't need the Internet, and then I switched to Apple and later to Linux as well, without ever looking back.
Today, you buy a Windows box, and what do you get? A hard drive with a cumbersome and memory-hungry GUI-only OS already installed on it, which takes control of everything from the moment you hit the power switch. Say you hard disk breaks (it happend suddenly on my 3 years old Apple): what will you do? Call the shop, bring them a bunch of original documents and pay them to have the system reinstalled? Or have a friend download a nice Linux distro for you and start a whole new life (after, alas, you have thrown away the money for the license) with your new OS?