One of the coolest things I've seen lately is Knoppix. Just download an ISO from their website and burn it to a CD, then reboot--voila, instant Linux desktop, no installation required. The entire Linux installation is already on the CD itself in runnable form, including drivers, window managers, applications, and anything else you're likely to need. It even comes with Java, Python, and even Ruby... all out of the box!
If I understand correctly, Knoppix won't touch your hard drive unless you do something to them. In fact, you don't even need a hard drive at all. For those who just want to try out Linux without having to repartition their hard drive or otherwise fudge with their perfectly tweaked Windows machine, this is about the least-invasive experience there is.
This isn't news for the Linux set... "live CD distros" have been along for quite some time, apparently, and range from tiny text-only installs intented for disaster recovery to full-on desktop setups like Knoppix. In fact, even I had heard of them quite some time ago, but never got around to actually trying one until now. It's the kind of thing that doesn't sound too exciting until you actually see it happen... like pausing live TV with TiVo.
Anyway, I highly recommend Knoppix. You've got nothing to lose but a blank CD...