can i run linux as an operating system without Microsoft o/s on the HDD
YES .. or with Windows.
will i be able to transfer my MS office files ie word exel over to Linux from my external HDD that i use for backup and be usable
YES .. LibreOffice can read and write Microsoft office docs .. caveat, if they're in .docx format there may be some slight formatting changes (pics moved slightly, font changes etc.) .. why not download LibreOffice for Windows first, and see how well it opens the Microsoft Office docs.
will my photos be accessable on linux os
i have all my music store as wma will this play on linux ?
Hmm .. if it contains DRM, I can't say for sure .. but Linux allows you to boot from a CD or USB stick to a fully working desktop without changing what's on your hard drive at all .. so Why not create a LiveCD/LiveUSB and test drive it on your current system ?
Google chrome ?
Nope .. but then you don't need anti-virus for Linux <-- seriously
what cant i do with linux
Besides run Windows software, not a lot .. but then there are nearly always a Linux alternative, and itr's usually free.
(can I add that it's sometimes possible to get Windows software running In WINE [a Windows compatibility layer], but not always, and to differing degrees .. I do however hear MS Office 2007 can be made to work .. but quite often getting Windows software to work in Linux through WINE is a PITA, so it's usuallly best/easiest to go with a Linux native alternative)
which linux is best for me as i see there are different versions/types
Ahh, the $64,000 question, and the one that will get you as many different responses as respondents
My vote goes for PeppermintOS .. but then I'm part of the development team .. so I *would* say that.
As I mentioned before, probably best to test drive a few distro's on LiveCD/LiveUSB and make up your own mind.
Currently, you may find more help/tutorials/etc. available for Ubuntu based distributions such as Ubuntu (obviously), Mint, Peppermint, etc.
Oh, nearly forgot .. welcome to the forum