I have the microsoft office applications and am wondering if I will still be able to use these. If I want to switch back to windows will I be able to do so? I have an Acer ultrabook with a 30gb ssd. It has a 5 second start up time because of this I am told. Will I be able to still have this quick start up time if I use Ubuntu? thanks.
It is not necessary to switch directly from Windows to Ubuntu - you can install Ubuntu next to Windows if you want, having the ability to choose which one you want to boot at startup.
Ubuntu will not by default install itself to the SSD, rather it will make room on the larger HDD and install itself there. You will still be looking at pretty darn fast boot times - my guess would be under 20 seconds on that hardware. However, if at some later point you want to erase Windows, it is possible to install Ubuntu on the SSD and probably get even faster boot times. Using the SSD to get fast read/write speeds for a normal data partition is also an option.
Microsoft Office 2013 will not work on Ubuntu. However, if you have the installation disk and product key for Office 2010, it is likely to work using Wine, which is the software we sometimes use to install Windows applications on Linux. Linux has an alternative to Microsoft Office called LibreOffice that you may want to try. It comes preinstalled.
Do test out all the hardware using the "Try Ubuntu" option when you boot the live DVD/USB. You want to check the graphics and WiFi, especially. If the keyboard or LCD backlight is not working, check online to see if there is a guide to get it working.