What risks you may ask? Well, there are many, and I'll list the most important ones...
- It's Illegal - who is going to find out you may ask? Well I for one wouldn't want to find out.
- It's a security risk - In this day and age, the security risks are many. Specially if you manage your finances on your computer.
- Pirated software is not safe - many of their sources can't be trusted and often lead to infections with worms and viruses that look to compromise more than your HW.
- Lack of support - the internet is a good source of info, but while searching for solutions, you risk getting or soliciting help from scam artists.
According to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, pirated OS\Software users make up a bigger market than Linux & Apple users combined. http://www.osnews.com/story/21035/Ballmer_Linux_Bigger_Competitor_than_Apple
It really shouldn't be so. There is no excuse for opting for pirated proprietary products when there are legal far more affordable options available. Not to mention far more secure in many ways when it comes to using your computer for all personal reasons.
I understand that these are very tough economic times, and the price of Windows and Apple systems is just too high. I couldn't agree more, quite frankly not only are they expensive, but if you are savy enough to deal with pirated OS\Software and its associated security risks, then they are also not aimed at you since they restrict your computing experience as if you were their target market.
I wholeheartedly believe that many if not all of people using illegal\pirated software are savy enough to be using Linux. As a windows server admin whose had his fare share of systems compromised over my carreer in IT, I can tell you that the small problems you'll encounter adapting and learning to use Linux, are small potatoes compared to having your system compromised by a virus or worm that can potentially steal your identity, banking information, and force you to reinstall your operating system.
I don't mean to say people that use pirated software are the ones doing the piracy... on the contrary those folks are far more skilled than the Proprietary Software companies themselves. What I mean to say is that if you are savy enough to use pirated OS\software and deal with its associated risks and ARE ABLE to fix them, then you are no ordinary user. Or one that needs to be led by the hand as Microsoft and Apple aim to do with their target market.
What I mean to say is that you need to be freed from their reigns, and should be enjoying a better computing experience. Now it will take a little bit of learning, but anyone can deal and fix a messed up Windows installation, then you are selling yourself short thinking Linux wouldn't be as easy or any easier.
Linux is a real world option these days. It is free and legal to download, use and redistribute. It has come a long way to becoming more user friendly and compatible with lots of hardware out there. Not only that, but gives you more control over your system and many fixes are simple editing of text files using the command line. While this intimidate mosts, they need to get over it... the command line is the isht when X windows wont start.
Applications are also a dime a dozen, and if this old Windows Server Admin has managed to find applications to do everything I used to do in Windows (from editing photos, docs, spreadsheets to even color calibrating my monitor and playing games) so can everyone one of those users taking risks on illegal OS\software. And the beauty of it all is that all those options are also free and legal to download use and redistribute.
Think about it, if you dislike Microsoft for their over priced products and want nothing more than to stick it to the man, don't do it in a fashion where they can get back at you. Stop using their products to send a clear message and do it legally by opting to use Linux. I can almost guarantee that Windows will not be an option once you have familiarized yourself with Linux.
It's time to put those computer savy skills to good use and give Linux a try. Give it a real shot as it will likely have you a bit confused at first while you get familiar with it. In the end, it will be worth it and the help online is free and there are some incredibly knowledgeable Linux users out there that want nothing more than to extend a lending hand.
Wouldn't it be nice if Windows and Apple offered their OS and applications free and allowed you to pay what you could afford instead of the ridiculous price they set for their products and then charge for support?
Well in the world of Linux, you can do just that. Once I found the distribution of choice, I donated to that project a set amount I was financially comfortable with. You read that right... and while some may say that Linux problem is the many flavors it comes in, I think it one of its greater strengths and went shopping for a distribution that looked and felt the way I wanted.
I legally, downloaded it, use it and if I didn't like it, went on to the next one I wanted to try... Try that with your illegal pirated offering... or legal proprietary purchase for that matter ;)