Maybe you're using very old versions or doing something wrong during the install. But if left alone most installs will load basic drivers etc without any issues. The only time I've had trouble with Linux is on some laptops where the manufacturer has used some really weird and individual hardware and nothing will load except the software shipped with it. One client has a laptop with Whinedozer 2000 installed, he's very careful of the CDs that came with it as he once tried a clean install from another Whinedozer 2000 disc and it didn't work. Back to the install disc with the drive and he got his Whinedozer back - only that specific modified variant would load on the Dell laptop. It was the last Dell he ever bought.
Yes it's easy to change the key, provided you do it before the system says you're a pirate and locks you up totally. When this happened the first time I contacted M$ and they told me to rebuild the system and gave me a new key code. 8 weeks later I had to repeat the process, after 4 repeats I stopped loading SP2 (Stuffit Pack 2). And yes getting the key out of M$ is hard work, I don't see why I should have to spend hours rebuilding a system that they broke.
The method of using M$ code is the only way you can get it to be compatible with M$ software, as they do NOT use industry standard instructions, you want M$ compatibility you pay them for the code that enables you to use their software.
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