It's doubtful that things will be all that different. But one thing you might want to look into is virtual machines such as VirtualPC or VirtualBox. You can run a number of different testing setups in a contained setup while the rest of your system is free to do whatever you want.
There is a small performance tradeoff for this, but with hardware virtualization making it into desktop CPUs, it's pretty minimal, and the benefits might well be worth it. You can run a 32-bit copy of Windows inside a virtual machine that does all the testing work, so if you need support you can still get it.
But workstations are really just desktops with slightly different hardware. Usually you get the workstation version of video cards instead of the desktop ones. I highly doubt you'll have any kind of problem making the adjustment.
As for the Linux vs. Windows thing... If they aren't going to support you either way, that makes for a somewhat compelling argument for Linux given the multitude of books and websites out there for helping people learn Linux. It's something that's probably worth looking into further, though you'll want to make sure your hardware is supported before getting too far along.
I work in a large company. I do simulations which I am currently running on external servers for a fee and to make a long story short to save on money I have to move to a workstation (not as powerful as servers but will have to do considering economic conditions). The workstation is top line. Its a HP Z800 8 cores, 24 GB RAM etc. Currently I told them to downgrade to XP OS. The IT dept in my company does not support any system which is 64 bit windows or any OS other than windows. So even though I have XP they wont support it because its 64 bit because of the high RAM.
1. My first question is regarding OS. My simulations run faster on Linux but I am not a computer guy so I dont know anything about Linux. Is it wise to install it once it comes in or should I compromise a bit on speed and stick with XP?
2. My second question is main one. I have not used any workstation before and since IT wont support me once it comes in I will have to do everything myself. So my question is- is a workstation set up any different? Means when it comes in should I do as I do to a desktop? Like connect the workstation to a monitor, put a mouse, power up everything, connect to network using ethernet cable. Then log in, installl my simulation program and just start running simulations? Or would the set up be different?
Sorry for the basic questions but just trying to be clear on everything as I have to do it myself and am not a computer expert.
Any help is appreciated.
Thanks a lot in advance.