Windows is good, I will grant you that. At least you can say that about a few versions out there. But at some point, an OS is just an OS, and it is the applications that become predominant.
That is something that Microsoft would rather we not understand. You shift over to some Linux distro or move to the Mac, and suddenly you begin to see things a bit differently. Now most people don't want to give up Windows completely, for several reasons, such as:
(1) Already know the OS, so why deal with a new one?
(2) My apps (okay, games then) demand I run them on top of Windows
(3) I've got too much money tied up in what I have now, so why change?
(4) The companies and clients I deal with all rely on Windows, so I have to do the same.
(5) I'm happy enough with the way things are, so why change?
The reasons above are valid ones for the most part, but change is being forced on you, did you know that? How, or rather Why, because Microsoft can't make the money it wants to make if you stick with the old stuff, so to get anything new (and to get upgrades as well), you are expected, even forced, to buy something new from them to replace what you currently have.
Don't you get a choice? Of course. You can refuse, or you can give in, or you can put the decision off for a time. And of course it is not just the OS that is effected, but every application that you currently have, or even the prospects of working with some of the new hardware that is coming out now or later.
Well, we can all see that. So what is the point of saying more? The point is, that there is another very effective and useful way to go, and it does not mean giving up what you already have. That could be the best choice of all.
Okay, how much is this going to cost me? Play your cards right, and it will not cost you more than the price of buying a few blank CDs, on which to burn some ISO images. The image files themselves are free to download and use.
If it is that easy, why isn't everybody doing it? I didn't say it was easy, I just said it was cheap. The cost is in the fact that you have to learn what to do and how, and then get it done. I've done it myself a number of times, and I like to think that I am getting better at it. But I will concede that others are helping by doing the same, explaining their methods, and having the developers behind the scenes upgrade the tools to work more effectively together. It can be both fun and satisfying, but sometimes frustrating and always a learning experience.
Then what is it? Just pick a Linux distribution, of which there are a great many, install it and add another package, which would be a Virtual Machine manager like VirtualBox, then set up a client in VirtualBox with its own virtual hardware and install Windows and its applications there. Just make sure that you have at least 1 GB or RAM for it to work well, and allocate at least 20 GB hard drive space to the client for its own softare to install and run in. You can allocate more at the beginning, but you cannot expand the space later, so make sure you have enough when you start.
Hey, I've heard all this before, and I also hear that it is hard to do, or does not work like it is suppose to. How sure can I be that this will work for me? It all depends upon the person that makes the effort. Stick with it, frequent the related forums, ask the right questions, and perform the needed searches when you have to, and you can get there. But it could take several tries or several weeks, maybe longer, to get it all in place. Only you can best decide when the task is done.
Why should I bother? Because, like I said before, change is being forced on us all. Our older versions of Windows and applications are gong to get cut off at some point, and there won't be any other support offered. But the Virtual Machine is not only a pretty safe place to run your client in, but can be set up to have certain characteristics that mask off advanced architectural features in the hardware that the client OS is not really able to deal with. And the VM manager is also able to let your host OS and guests OSes (yes, you can have multiples if your PC is that advanced) share data by clipboard or file sharing. In fact, the host and guests appear to each other as machines on the same network, even though they are all in the same box and using the same hardware.
There are still some problems to resolve for many, One is that XP is designed to have limited deployment, with verification, registration, and validation done so that it's reuse is virtually done away with. This has been coped with to some degree by others, but not all would want to undertake this approach.
An alternative that I favor is to use Windows 2000 Pro, which is essentially the earlier core aspect of XP, stripped of some of its enhancements, but also without the rigors of tight licensing rules. The only limitations on either version of Windows is that initially, neither is set up to recognize 48-bit LBA addressing, which is needful with large hard drives and partitions. But apparently this can be dealt with, either by a custom modified install CD or by only permitting the designated C: partition size of up to its limit of 137 Megabytes.
My search right now is to find out exactly how to customize an install CD for either Windows 2K Pro or XP that would cause the installer to recognize and use 48-bit LBA at the start of the install ,process. I've clues, but until I try the several methods suggested, I will not know for sure.
Is it all worth it? Hey, I really like the mix of Ubuntu and Windows working side by side on the same PC at once. (Okay, one is atop the other, but it seems side by side). There are features in both to make them worth while, and one might have something on the surface that the other lacks, so I just toggle over to use it.
I'm particularly thrilled to find and prove that I can come to terms with what has to be done to take the initiative away from a giant cooperation that only seeks to fill its own pockets at our expense. So there is no harm in knowing that my copy of Windows has been long paid for, and Ubuntu is a great Linux distro that would please many Windows users once they become somewhat familiar with it, yet costs us nothing to download and install.
So, to answer my own question, I guess it is a question of what you mean by the words "Go Any Farther".. In my case, I take that to mean go forward with what I already own and will continue to use, in conjunction with what else I choose to adopt. Others will likely take it somewhat differently.