I'm trying, slowly, to get all of the drivers working on the Windows box (see the last few posts). One bit of hardware we have for the XP is the Microsoft Wireless Keyboard/Mouse combo. This is a USB dongle which broadcasts to a wireless mouse and keyboard.
I've installed the drivers for the thing, but Windows still can't find it. If I can find the manual, or the TeenagerTM who installed the thing in the first place, I can probably make it work, as it Worked Before, but it's not automatic.
On a whim, I plugged the thing into my Linux box, and, voila, it worked. (I'm typing this post with it.) No drivers needed be be installed, at least with Ubuntu Dapper, and, I suspect, most major Linux distributions.
The default configuration for Hal is to use a Microsoft USB Optical Mouse plugged into a PS2 adapter and connected through a KVM switch. It's never given me a problem.
Conclusion: Microsoft hardware works best under Linux.
Much later: It turns out that the dongle was plugged into a bad USB port. Linux & Things regrets the error. In any case, Microsoft hardware usually works quite well with Linux.