“ReactOS”:http://www.reactos.org/xhtml/en/index.html is taking an unusual tack from most other free-OS developers. Rather than building a new UNIX-based distribution, their goal is to create an operating system that is completely binary compatible with Microsoft Windows using only open source code. That means it should be able to install and run both applications and drivers designed for Windows. It’s still in development, but it’s already pretty capable, as you can see from the screenshots.
It’s an intriguing idea. Looks like I’ll have to get a copy to play with on VirtualPC or VMWare.