For helping friends/family, I like ShowMyPC.com. Both of you go there and download/run an EXE. Once it launches, they click to generate a code that they give to you and you connect using it. It's VNC-based and nothing to install.
I stumbled onto this artist years ago who makes people from old TVs/VCRs etc. I've purchased a few of them over the years. At one point, I mailed him a box of parts that I had un-soldered from some old junk and he sent me some free capacitor guys...
When we buy new computers at my work, my Dell rep said that they must come with Windows XP Pro. We corporately have an EA agreement, so on top of paying for Windows with the machine, we end up paying close to $700 for each machine's EA license (OS/Office/CALs). Why should we pay twice for Windows?