Microsoft Windows has Free Virtual Machines

Wish I had know about these earlier. Microsoft offers free Windows virtual machines for VirtualBox, VMWare, and others. You can choose from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (a few different flavors of each). They last 90 days before expiring, but you can snapshot them right after you install them to make it easy to reset that 90 days by rolling back to the snapshot.

Officially, these are for testing out the Edge browser, but you can also use them for whatever else 😉

Check them out here:

https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/

 

 

Snagit Charges for “Upgrade”

lipstick on a pig photo

Look! This pig has lipstick.

I am completely fine with paying for software that I really like and that serves a purpose for me. However, if you are a software company that is going to use the ‘paid upgrade’ model of charging customers to upgrade to the next major version of your product, make sure the next major version contains new features worth paying for.

In the case of TechSmith’s Snagit, they have failed to provide anything of real value in their latest release (version 3.0 for Mac, or 12.0 for Windows), yet they are asking for $24.95 to upgrade to the latest version.

I paid for version 2 of Snagit for my Mac (that’s version 11 for you Windows users), and I really enjoyed using it. It became a tool in my arsenal that I relied heavily upon for doing quick screen shots and adding text, notes, arrows, and more.

Then one day a couple of weeks ago the updater ran and I was suddenly looking at a trial version of Snagit 3.0. And it said it was going to expire unless I paid the discounted upgrade fee of $24.95.

Aggravated, I hoped to have my mood changed and be wowed by version 3.0. So I tested it out for a few days. I quickly found that it had a nicer look and feel about it, but other than that, there were no noticeable enhancements or actual upgrades to the product. It was the same product with about one new feature related to the video clipping tool — something I could care less about. And that new feature was only a new arrow selector of some sort. Not impressed.

Jason Eagleston, the “Snagit Product Owner” at TechSmith even admits in their self-congratulatory release video that “with this release we had a focus on updating the way Snagit looks and feels, partially to bring that consistency across all the Techsmith things that you are going to interact with, but ultimately it’s only focused on getting your content to be the most prominent thing on the screen.”

Hmm…I only interact with one Techsmith product, so why should this be a feature worth paying for? And how is it not the most prominent thing on my screen if I’m currently using it in the first place?

A couple of more employees in the video go on to talk about how much nicer the product will be to use, and that they really wanted people to feel like they were using something current and not outdated. So it really isn’t about an upgrade, it’s about a change of clothes.

The whole video is about them admitting that their product didn’t look that great, so they spent a lot of effort making it look better (or “flatter,” as they say in the video, which is supposed to be something we should like), and now they want their customers to pay for that. No real tool enhancements or additions, just a subjective improvement to the design. For $24.95? No thanks.

For those of you looking for a free alternative to Snagit, check out Skitch. With or without Evernote, it’s a nice tool that does just about everything Snagit does for screen capturing.

Photo by Darin Barry

The Biggest Shot In The Foot Ever?

For the last few weeks, the techie blogs have been circulating stories about how Microsoft Windows Vista can be installed and used for free for 120 days. You see, Microsoft gives you 30 days to try it out for nothing, but then they will disarm it and require you to purchase a license to continue using it.

Someone found out that Microsoft had built in a way to extend that 30 trial to 120 days through a little registry tweak.

Well, now someone has figured out how to extend it indefinitely, not by hacking or cracking the operating system, but by using the built-in tools that Microsoft included in the operating system.

From DailyCupOfTech.com:

“It appears that crackers need not break Windows Vista activation because Microsoft has done it for them! Brian Livingston of Window Secrets writes in Microsoft allows bypass of Vista activation about how to allow you to keep your Vista box running indefinitely without activating it.”

It is likely that MS will try and fix this through some future patch, but what will they break in doing so? They obviously had a need to provide this functionality for some reason.

Now that I’ve abandoned Winders on the home desktop completely for RedHat Fedora linux, this makes me chuckle. However, maybe I’ll give it a shot and see what happens!

Windows Free – Update 1

After about 4 hours of using Ubuntu Linux, I ditched it and installed Fedora Core 4. The main reason was that Ubuntu does not have a root user. This may seem odd to experienced Linux folks, but the intentions behind it are good. Unless you know what you are doing, you can completely hose a Linux operating system as the root user. So, in order to become as user-friendly as possible for Linux newbies, they require you to use ‘sudo’ for everything in Ubuntu.

To me, this was a slowdown. I decided to go with what I am most familiar with, and that is the RedHat-based Fedora Core 4.

More on my venture to discard Windows from my life will soon follow.

Windows Free!

I got fed up. Fed up with a bogged down operating system. I got tired of viruses, spyware, licenses, etc etc etc.

Tonight I made the switch.

No, not to Apple. To Linux. Full-time, full-on Linux. Ubuntu, to be exact.

Within two hours I was up and running a smooth desktop, playing music from my iTunes library, browsing with Firefox, checking all my email in Thunderbird, and enjoying the feeling of being free from Windows.

The remarkable thing is that almost all of my USB devices work. My webcam does not, but a quick lookup found a tutorial on setting it up. Transferring all of my files was easy too. I just mounted my WinXP hard drive and whammo – it’s all accessible.

It’s still very early to tell how well I will adjust to this in my day-to-day working environment at home, so I will report back here on the matter in a week or two.