10 years ago was 2003, not the 1990s.
Just to be clear, I meant to say even 10 years ago things were not what you described, so your experience was probably from the precedent decade.
I'm not blaming you for giving up, just don't compare what Linux is in the present to what it was in the late 90. Things have evolve a lot. I'm not telling you to give a try. Do what you want. I seriously don't care. But please don't make judgment based on what you think you know. I could make use Linux to my grandmother who don't understand much about computing, and I'm sure it would work well. Believe it or not.
Linux was ready in the late 90s or even early 2000s, but seriously it's not comparable to what it is today.