...Dells are US$299. The New York Times ran a story on a man who threw away his PC because it was infested with spyware. Now, I know enough about journalism to know that anecdotal evidence does not mean it's time for widespread panic, but this is a major issue. PCs are cheap. They're full of PCBs and other dirty grossness. They're full of spyware. Therefore, you're damned if you throw it away and you're damned if you don't.
Ultimately, this is a Microsoft issue. For some advice on spyware, read on after the jump.
Here's Uncle John's Olde-Tyme Rules for Keeping Yourself Safe, in Order of Utility
1. Get a Mac
2. Get Xandros Linux - The BEST Desktop Linux Solution. I gave it to my Dad after I became the de facto tech support guy for the fam.
3. Use Firefox - FREE
3. Download Ad-Aware or Spybot Search & Destroy - FREE
4. Download Avast Anti-Virus - FREE
5. Turn off your PC and read a book.