I have a Toshiba NB305-N310 netbook running XP Home which, while certainly not a screamer, serves several useful functions for me, including for travel and as a cheap work station at home from where I can remotely operate my main desktop system from one floor of the house to the other to check e-mail, do quick online research, etc. I don't currently have the resources to replace this with a new device such as a tablet or smartphones (which would be "times 2" for both my wife and I). With the end of XP support, I will be very sadly forced to abandon this device unless I can upgrade it to another OS and I don't find that XP is eligible for any upgrade version of later releases through MS.
The netbook hardware (2GB RAM, 1.66 GHz Atom CPU) would allow me to do a clean install of Win 7 32-bit Home Premium and run with somewhat slower performance and I am willing to do that but it has to be economical. Most of what I find online for Win 7 Home Premium are OEM versions and I've found conflicting information (some of it old) about whether the resulting install would be considered legitimate:
I have found an online vendor who offers what they call a "retail" downloadable version (no media) of Win 7 Home Premium at an attractive price. However, I'm concerned about whether this will indeed be a legitimate copy and reviews and other research of the vendor give me doubts. One could approach this by accepting that the device is more-or-less useless once XP support ceases and attempt the Win 7 "retail" (download) install and, if it doesn't work out (doesn't install properly or the version isn't genuine), just take the somewhat small loss of the cost of the download.
The other possible solution that has occurred to me is to install a non-MS OS -- the obvious one being Linux -- but I have no experience with anything other than Windows and don't have the time to deal with it. I also have concerns with security running something other than a Windows-based system that receives regular updates.
Any advice about the above or options I haven't considered on my own would be very helpful.
Thanks very much.