I tried Linux in 1998 (You really had to know your stuff then) and always have a copy on Mint as dual boot and virtual machine, and I can assure you that whereas the basics are good, if you want to use specialist software (Including industry standard hardware and software) you are still stuffed with Linux unless you want to spend days trying to sort things out, (Something a new user would not have a cat in hells chance of doing) so unless you wish to be tied to an OS (The same applies to Apple OS) then Windows is still your best bet, (Plus it supports more specialist programs (Particularly Music software/hardware) than Apple or Linux, not forgetting that if you run in to problems there is always a local friend that can help. (You try finding somebody local who even knows what Linux is)I don't understand what you mean by prepared to put the work in though if you wish to go beyond the basics? Mint would be easier to use than OS than Windows to anyone new to using a computer as their fist OS especially if they want to go beyond the basics and learn more about computers. I use Mint as my main OS on my laptop and I've never one had a problem when using it to go beyond the basics. Again it's a far easier OS to use than Windows especially for going beyond the basics.
Zorin is an good OS one you remove the Windows training wheels.
BTW. Although limited Apple OS is the easiest computer OS to get into if you are a new user that doesn't even know what an OS is. (And if you are happy joining the Apple ecosystem your in heaven, as everything just plugs in and works)
Have a look at these videos here