To add to to what some people have posted previously, I don't believe that Windows XP Home will cause you any issues.
- Remote Assistance is available on Windows XP Home. Your IT staff can remote control your PC.
- Remote Desktop connector is available on Windows XP Home. You can connect to your corporate network. This is the "client side" of Remote Desktop.
- The only thing missing is Remote Desktop (the "server" side), which is not available in Windows XP Home. But keep in mind that this is used for when you want to remotely connect to your own laptop when "no one is home". I know every IT organization is different, but I've been in the field for 14 years and I haven't seen a corporate support entity use RD to go into someone's personal computer. I think, as has been indicated previously, that there is some confusion on the part of the IT staff with the Remote Desktop Connector, the tool that you would use to access your company's network.
I know what it is to support a large user community, so I'm not at all surprised that they use a broad brush to say they won't support Windows XP Home. It's not uncommon.
But like I said, you really won't have any problems and if you did, you could, as noted, simply purchase Windows XP Professional if you felt it truly necessary. Though I genuinely can't think of a single good reason to put XP Pro on a netbook unless it was to connect to a domain controller.
One sidenote, I noticed in your last posting that you intend to install MS Office and MS Streets & Trips. Make sure you get yourself a larger SSD
drive, at least 16GB, because installing and updating those applications is going to take up quite a bit of space. It's actually the updating that becomes more of a problem than practically anything else, but the point remains.
Good luck with whatever your decision.
P.S. That company offer of a late model Thinkpad for $100 is a gift. Take it. I use an old R51 at work and if I could get that for $100, I'd grab it in a second. A couple of minor updates and it's a perfectly good device. ThinkPads are fantastic.