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Three Different things yet belonging to the same environment are named Linux.Originally it was used to name the kernel of the Linux Operating System (whose complete name should be hence “GNU Linux“) and eventually it was used to simply refer to the Linux Operating System. Finally, a lot of application software was added both by spontaneous programming groups and by software companies, creating software collections also known as distributions.
So nowadays the name Linux is used for three different things: the kernel, the operating system and the distribution.

Basically no. Linux and Windows are so different that a program written and compiled for Windows won’t run on Linux and vice versa. An exception may be done for Java programs, provided that the Java Virtual Machine is installed in the system. However, a few developer groups and software companies are committed in developing emulators that make possible, under certain circumstances, to run some Windows programs on Linux.

Linux has become very user friendly nowadays. For a normal user the learning curve is not steeper then for learning Windows or MacOs.