Why having one?
There have been times when your computer gets stuck while installing a new software or hardware and it is not possible to boot up again. There have been times when your computer was infected with a virus or worm, your antivirus software been infected too. There have been times when your NTFS formatted hard disk was badly damaged and you could not access your files. There have been innumerable times when a simple dos based boot disk turned out being useless. How many times have you formatted your hard disk and lost all your data due to a combination of the above instances and more?
There are some real benefits which can be realized with the PE, contrary to any type of dos-based boot disk, even when using network support and NTFS dos.
First of all, you use a user-friendly graphical environment to perform your task. You can access very large NTFS volumes, more than 2TB or volumes that cannot be identified by BIOS, like fiber channel disks.
Furthermore, it is very reliable when it comes to scanning and removing viruses from NTFS or FAT volumes (clean boot). You can format, defrag and manage hard disk partitions. It is also possible to recover files and copy damaged ones. Finally, you can edit the registry of a damaged computer and recover data from a corrupted windows system, browse the Internet as well as your local network, not to mention the fact that you are provided with remote control over other machines. But most of all, it saves time from formatting, reinstalling, or having to turn to experts to have things fixed for you.
Is it legal?
WinPE is based on Microsoft Windows XP Professional and allows IT staff to build custom solutions that speed up deployment through automation. Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Software Assurance Membership (SAM) customers can receive WinPE while updating. Unfortunately, this means that the WinPE is available only to the OEM producers and not to the final user. However, Microsoft should add WinPE in their Windows “Longhorn” version. OEM producers can utilize this WinPE bootable CD in their work without breaking any laws.
This is so, despite the fact that it has been alleged that BartPE is an unlicensed version of both the WinPE and Windows XP. As a matter of fact, it is the BartPE and not the WinPE the software whose legal status has been in question. The BartPE is capable of plugging in the Windows XP or WinServer 2003 files. It does not plug in any WinPE files and does not use any files that belong to theWinPE (BartPE v3.0.30 and higher).
When dealing with issues that relate to the legality of the software in question, one should bare in mind that:
1. It is legal to make a backup copy of any files from one's original Windows XP/2003 media to another media and add any other files they wish to that media.
2. It is not legal to use a BartPE CD and an installed Windows XP/2003, both at the same time and under the same Windows XP/2003 EULA.
3. It is not legal to change any binary files in the process according to the Windows XP/2003 EULA, like "winlogon" and "bootscreen".
Thus, a users wishing to have a licensed WinPE, are not allowed to take advantage of the BartPE. However, one can always use a BartPE under the Windows XP/2003 EULA license comimg with the BartPE XP/2003 source media. The PE Builder download archive does not include any plug-ins breaking the rules mentioned above. Yet, one should be always careful with plug-ins created by others.
Considering the above, the BartPE is not illegal. If you do not make more than one BartPE CDs when you are in possession of one Windows XP/2003 license, you can use it in any environment.