If you have a computer having a crashed hard disk or it is not coming up with windows. Can you access internet? Your obvious answer would be no. But, wait. There are live CDs which you can use and boot your computer, this allows you to access all your computer resources like, network, USB drives, hard disks etc.
Most of these live CDs will have all the software necessary to do your work online. Addition to this if you mostly work on a cloud based application , you will never need Windows XP.
Softwares which comes with such live CDs:Internet Browser, Mozilla. Office Productivity Tools, Word Processing, Spread Sheet, Presentation etc. Audio and Video Players. Other Misc. Utilities
Some of the live CDs you can get free on the net are:Fedora Knoppix Mandriva
You need to download the ISO images and burn it on CD, and then boot your computer with the CD.
If your Windows operating system is crashed , but your hard disk is healthy , you can boot the computer with the live CD and access the data on the Hard Disk Drive.
You can, obviously install the Linux Operating system from some of the live CDs.
These Linux operating systems are much faster and will boot your computers in seconds, rather than in minutes. But take care there is some learning curve here.