I appear to have installed Linux on the ancient laptop. :)
The laptop in question is an IBM Thinkpad T22 that I bought second hand quite a few years ago now. It used to run Windows 98 and had become nothing more than a portable word processor for when I wanted to write without being connected to the distractions of the Internet. When I first got it, it would do lots more, but age has crept up on it and recently Internet Explorer kept crashing whenever I tried to access the web. Of course because it kept crashing, there was no way of downloading a newer version, assuming there was a newer version that was still compatible with Windows 98!
Anyway, after a lot of exploring the Web yesterday and reading up about different distros of Linux, plus a bit more experimenting today (which involved downloading newer CD burning software for the desktop), I seem to have Linux Mint running happily and it will access the Web again. Also I have Open Office, which is fine for my writing needs, so it looks like the ancient laptop has just been given a new lease of life.