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Xtra-PC: A Legal Scam Aimed at Inexperienced Windows Users

RT Cunningham | July 18, 2020 (UTC) | Computers

Xtra-PCI’m not going to give the makers of Xtra-PC a free link to their website. Just do a search for “xtra-pc” and it should show up near the top.

Xtra-PC is a scam - a legal scam. It’s aimed at inexperienced Windows users. Granted, those numbers are going down, but I’m willing to bet they’ll still make money from them for several more years.

Xtra-PC Explained

I followed an advertisement (in 2016) that pointed to an “advertorial”, an editorial written solely to promote a product. While the advertorial gave a few details about it, I had to go to the product website to get the details I was looking for.

Unless they remove it, all you have to do is follow the link at the top of the page for “How It Works”.

When I wrote the original article in 2016, they charged $25 (not including shipping and handling and applicable taxes) for the basic model, which furnished 8 gigabytes of storage (including the operating system). Today, the basic model is a 16 gigabyte stick at $34.99.

It’s Linux on a USB stick and nothing more. Again, when I wrote the original article, they didn’t say which Linux distribution they were using.

How is this Legal?

Xtra-PC isn’t selling Linux on a stick. They’re selling the media and the support. Even so, I don’t think it’s worth what they’re charging to be able to boot up Linux on a Windows PC. But then, that’s just me.

There are a lot of companies out there selling Linux on DVD media and other types of media. They sell it to people who have spotty or slow Internet connections and people who can’t figure out how to get it without any help. They’re upfront about what they’re selling.

Inexperienced Windows Users

It’s unfortunate that I know people who are perfect targets for a company like Prairie IT (the makers of Extra-PC). Most are in their mid-50s or older. I’m sure I can find a few younger than my age group if I try hard enough.

It’s pretty easy to download and burn a Linux Live CD/DVD to a USB stick, even if the instructions for doing so seem to vary from place to place on the web.

Previous Comments

I’m posting the comments I received on the original article verbatim, except for one. It was an abusive comment I felt compelled to delete as soon as read it. Here are the rest, with minor grammar and spelling mistakes corrected for readability:

MikeyrInJef

Suspicions confirmed… Of course there’s a lot more $$ in this than just telling folks how to get this for themselves by downloading and burning a copy of Linux on their own flash drive. Sigh…

William Davison

This hardly a scam, basically they are offering the convenience of Linux OS without needing to install the OS on the hard drive, which maybe old or the user may want to try Linux without removing the Windows OS. The offer includes email support and 30 day money back and with software like Open office already installed. This is service that saves time, packaged as product as its easier to sell than a service. I used to fix my own PC’s but stopped doing that as did it infrequently, so its quicker and cheaper (time is money) to go round to the local small computer repair shop and get him to do it. The problem with Linux community is they expect everyone to learn how to configure Linux, which fine if you still live with your parents with no responsibilities. The main problem with it is the length of the USB which can get damage when you using it all the time, it would be better if they used a short USB drive like Samsung does.

To find out the distro you could have asked What distro do you use? As I did: “The Xtra-PC system is a modified and optimized version of LINUX Lubuntu (Ubuntu Gnome). Our development team made sure that the Xtra-PC system is fast and user-friendly, so that our customers wouldn’t have a hard time in using it.”

Dennis Sneed

Agree. I’ve downloaded lots of free Linux distros, burned most to CD/DVD, and have some on my hard drive. Personally I don’t think it’s worth paying the $35, that’s me. I, too, have an old Windows XP laptop that I overwrote and installed Linux Lite. Just as fast. And I’ve occasionally run my PC directly from the distro, bypassing Windows. The problem to me is that they’re not making the Windows OS faster, they’re bypassing it. And someone who is not knowledgeable is going to get a big disappointment when they discover that they can’t run some windows programs from Linux. BTW, I do like some Linux distros, basically to learn about the OS.

Phil Potter

I’m not sure that it is actually iniquitous to sell a Linux bundle on a USB stick but I rather think that it’s immoral. I think that it is also deceitful as most buyers won’t be able to use any Linux distribution properly. I use Linux Mint Xfce 19.3 and I’m far from an IT tyro (I was introduced to computers in about 1970, fifty years ago). Nevertheless, I don’t find Linux quite as easy as Windoze (it’s a little geeky too).

But it’s at least as stable and, with the right software, just as versatile. It’s also rather smaller, uses less resources and is faster than Windoze. My laptop boots in about 30 seconds from cold.

One thing about this is that I doubt it can easily be updated or that other software can be easily added.

Missing the Point

People like William Davison, above, completely miss the point. Inexperienced Windows users aren’t going to know the Xtra-PC sticks won’t run Windows programs. They’re not going to ask what software is being used to perform this magic trick. They just want to speed up their old machines. This isn’t the right way to speed them up, but they don’t know that. Not all of them will fall for the scam, but enough will to keep it going.

If the company was upfront about what the Xtra-PC stick isn’t, I’m sure they’d sell less of them.

Photo Attribution: Esa Riutta from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in October 2016.

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