As with many in Sri Lanka, my first OS was a pirated copy of Windows. It was a copy of Windows XP and like most, I still remember it’s product key by heart (QW4HD-DQCRG-HM64M-6GJRK-8k83T. I didn’t Google this, I swear.). I know many others who perfectly remember this exact product key. But soon after I bought my first PC, I got to know this thing called Linux, and Ubuntu is my primary OS since a long time. Even then, I dual booted a pirated copy of Windows.

But I always had an uneasy feeling that I am a thief — which I was. I knew millions of others were using pirated copies of Windows, and probably Microsoft don’t give a damn about that. The main reason why I switched to Ubuntu as my primary OS was because I didn’t want to use a pirated software, but I had to keep an installation of it aside just in case I might need to use some essential software that only ran on Windows.

Then a moment came that made me realize that I don’t use the installation of Windows at all. I have never came across a software that I needed to run, that required Windows. Don’t get me wrong here, there are many software that only run on Windows, but I didn’t have to use any of them. So one day I deleted the Windows partition of my laptop’s hard disk and used only Linux for two about years. Yay! No more pirated software on my laptop!

However, Windows came back to my laptop yesterday. This time as a legal copy. Did I pay for it? No! I am not a rich man! Then how? Windows Insider Program.

Windows Insider Program essentially adds you into a Windows beta testers’ circle. You get non-final and testing builds of the OS and you don’t pay anything for it. The builds you get will be unstable and not ready for use in critical systems. But if you are geek, you are always excited to get your hands on pre released and unstable software anyway, aren’t you?

If you are willing to dual boot with Linux and don’t plan to use Windows as your primary OS, Windows Insider Program previews are a perfect choice for you. You get the ability to run occasional Windows only software for the price of testing Microsoft’s OS for them. I think this is a more than fair trade, and I am totally happy with it. And I believe Microsoft is on the right track here.

Microsoft’s OS will never be open source, and I am okay with that, there is no need for it to be; if I wanted a great open source OS, I have Ubuntu and I am already using it. I won’t be much surprised if Microsoft one day thought to release two branches of Windows; one free of charge with constant beta features and no stability guarantee, the other the same Windows most know now.

I downloaded a 4 GB ISO of Windows 10 Insider Preview from Microsoft’s website and made a bootable USB Flash Drive with it, and tried to install the OS with it on a spare Hard Disk in the office, but installing from USB Flash Drive didn’t work, and I had to burn the image on to an actual DVD in order to be able to install the OS from it. Installation was successful but I found out that Windows 10 did not support the on-board graphics of the mother board of my PC. Apart from that, everything was okay.

Yesterday, I brought the DVD home, resized existing partitions to make room for another 100 GB NTFS partition, and installed Windows 10 on the new partition. Luckily, the preview OS works very well on my laptop without any major issue. The only issue is that it does not support the driver for my laptop’s touch pad, so I am unable to perform tasks like two-finger scroll or pinch-to-zoom.

After testing Windows 10 Insider Preview for a couple of hours, I came across several hiccups, like programs not opening, and some settings windows opening without any content in them. But again, those are things you have to expect from a pre-released software, and that’s more than fine for a secondary OS.

Giving back to Windows Insider Program, I completed a couple of tasks of testing some OS features in Windows Insider Hub.

Windows 10 seems and looks like a good OS, but I will continue to use Ubuntu as my primary OS, coming to Windows “just for a change”.

All in all, if you don’t want to pay Microsoft for the ability to run Windows only software, don’t mind occasional hiccup, okay with receiving beta features constantly, and willing to dual boot with Linux as your primary OS, Windows Insider Previews are for you.