Not sure how much of a novice you are but running skype is not something thats only possible on the windows platform.
You can download many linux distro's and as long as they can configure your soundcard you can use skype
But there are also version of windows XP out that should be able to do what you want with only 512mb memory.
It is a streamlined version and all of the bloatware is removed from it.
best browser made by mankind! Linux 220.127.116.11-9-x86_64 SUSE LINUX 11.1