Originally Posted by sailingdog
Vista is actually the problem...
Which is one reason I use a Mac... No VISTA...
Yeah. I'm in the "anything but Windows" camp myself. Agree -- Windows Vista is bloated, clunky, and crap. Backwards compatibility is horrid.
Windows 7 may be your easiest answer. However, there are tarpits to fall into. Windows 7 features a different GUI than Vista's but has a very similar kernel and mostly the same libraries under the hood. MS squeezed out some of the bloat in Windows 7 and does feature great XP compatibility in the more expensive versions. I find the idea of charging extra for backwards compatibility (among other features) to be philosophically repugnant, but not everyone thinks that way. So if your GPS worked well with Windows XP, Windows 7 may work for you. Its advantage is that it is the path of least resistance.
Macs are a good choice. In fact, if you need your equipment to "just work" with minimal knowledge on your part and without fooling around with it much, Macs are your best choice. The price you pay for that convenience is the extra cost - Apple only does high-end machines, and you do pay more for the brand. Interestingly, the price penalty for Macs is much less than it used to be when compared to Windows computers with the same capabilities.
BSD is generally a non-starter with GPS. Few device drivers or applicable packages of interest. I expect Open Solaris is about the same, although that's only supposition on my part since I don't know it well.
Linux is the cheapest alternative and allows you to reuse your Windows hardware. The price you pay for very low cost is your time and blood pressure. It requires you be computer literate, willing to learn, and have the time to fool around with it. Setting up GPS with Linux can be anywhere from easy to impossible, depending on on the Linux compatibility of your equipment and the depth of your knowledge.
I like Linux, but it is not for everyone. If you are thinking of trying Linux, do your homework thoroughly before you wipe anything off the drive, and always do a complete backup first before you change anything. You may find TuxMobil: GPS Navigation Devices - Linux Compatibility Survey
useful since is shows which GPS devices are compatible with Linux and the Linux distribution(s) that are known to handle those devices.