Sunday, September 7, 2014

Are you using an illegal copy of Windows?

Why do people will install an illegal copy of Windows on their computer?  I'm not talking about the legal aspect as it is wrong to use an unpaid version of any software but about the troubles they get into just to make it work.

As everyone is shouting about privacy issues with social networks, smartphones and the web in general, why would someone take the risk of introducing the biggest Trojan Horse ever known, an illegal copy of Windows.

A downloaded copy may contains more than expected like key loggers, viruses or spywares.  SerialKey generators are even worse and they too may get you more than a working copy of Windows.  Then you will have to do the "hunt-for-drivers" and hoping that your hardware will be supported as it was with the original copy that came with your PC.


The process of getting a fully functional version of Windows may end up in a privacy nightmare that you really do not want to experience.  Let's not forget that once Windows is installed, many users will repeat the process with MS Office, Photoshop and other great softwares that are the reference in their field.

A bit of story time...

At home, we have three laptops that came with Windows originally.  Mine is a Samsung RV515 and came pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Edition.  There is also an old MSI netbook, pre-installed with Windows XP and a more recent laptop, an Asus, that one of my step-daughter got from her dad.  It was pre-installed originally with Windows 7, "upgraded" to Windows 8.

The MSI netbook got into many troubles over the years and was on life support.  Actually, we were considering trashing the little devil as it became unstable and deadly slow.  We did not know how to reformat the machine as there is no CD/DVD on the device and we just dont remember if we had some way to re-install Windows XP on it.

The Asus laptop was used and originally came pre-installed with Windows 7.  My step-daughter's dad had installed Windows 8 on it and the laptop was not handling the latest version of Windows very well.  Eventually, she asked if she could have Windows 7 instead.  Technically, it was just putting back the original operating system which was already paid for this machine.  The issue was that we did not have the original installation disk nor the original serial number...  So a friend helped out by providing an OEM copy of Windows 7 but we were stuck on the activation process that would not work.  To make a long story short, my step-daughter (an 11 year-old) became tired of Windows constantly asking to activate it.


For the MSI and the Asus, we were stuck in a dead-end and I was not willing to use any software that would crack and activate (probably) Windows.  There are too many security risks involved and too many issues that could arise.

You guessed it, I proposed installing Ubuntu 14.04...

My girlfriend was a bit scared of moving into unknown territories with her MSI and my step-daughter did not want to lose her "Plants versus Zombies" game that she had bought for the Asus laptop.

The Samsung laptop

This is my personal laptop.  Windows 7 was well supported on it, but I wanted Ubuntu 14.04 for development purpose.  Nothing special, move along...

The MSI netbook

It was slow, unstable, freezing all the time.  Battery was dead as it could not hold a charge more than 5 minutes.  My girlfriend agreed that as a last and final step, I could format the hard disk and install Ubuntu 14.04 on it as "an experiment" before trashing the device.

After the installation process completed, 45 minutes later, the MSI booted up into Ubuntu...  It was running smoothly and very well.  Then we realized that Ubuntu was reporting that the battery charge was good for more than 1 hour...  Strange as we knew that it could not hold the charge for more than 5 minutes...

My girlfriend and I took a tour of Ubuntu where I was showing her how it was working, where Firefox was and so on...  She actually liked it as it was simple and easy.  She was impressed to discover that her netbook was running so smooth and was actually feeling like a brand new machine.


Surprise, surprise!  We also discovered that Ubuntu was not lying.  The battery was in fact able to hold the charge for more than an hour.

The Asus laptop

Yesterday, as of writing this post, my step-daughter agreed to try out Ubuntu 14.04 on her laptop.  Since Windows was so annoying, Avast wanted to update all the time and nothing was working smoothly, why not give it a try.  As I explained to her, she's 11, it's a bit like a Mac but not the same.

She is using her laptop to do her homework from school, playing "Plants versus Zombies" and browsing the web.  Nothing fancy, she just wanted her laptop to work.  The installation process took overall an hour, including making a small backup of her files on an external drive.  Everything was supported "out-of-the-box' including the webcam that never worked in Windows...


We spent the afternoon together discovering her "new' computer.  She was simply amazed to find out how easy it was to use.  She loved the Ubuntu Software Centre as it is like her iPod App Store.  Everything she needed was already installed and functional.  She was actually expecting that we had to hunt for hardware drivers, download a few softwares so she could do her homework and that we had to configure many things.  In her mind, the laptop should have been ready only on the next day, after many hours of downloading, installing, updating...  Nope!  It was ready, after only an hour.

As a bonus, we installed PlayOnLinux to try to run her game "Plants versus Zombies".  As I explained to her, there was a good chance that it would not work.  And... It worked perfectly!

Her comments:

  • Ubuntu is looks great
  • It's so fast and smooth
  • It's like a Mac, but free
  • The "AppStore" is great, there are a lot of free games 
  • Everything is updated, all apps, all games... Like her iPod
  • There is so much to discover... It's so cool!
In the end...


Everyone is happy!  I always liked Ubuntu so for me, it's not a surprise.  My girlfriend has a "brand new" netbook and she loves it.  My step-daughter now has a fully functional laptop as it should have been and she can finally do her stuff.

Struggling with your Windows?  Maybe it's time to try something else, maybe it's time for Ubuntu!

Go get it: http://www.ubuntu.com
Wanna see Ubuntu in action? Check out my Youtube channel: http://youtube.com/patrickballeux