When the hard disk on my three year old laptop failed I had to either replace it or the whole PC. I chose to buy a 500 GB solid state disk and upgrade the memory to 8 GB. This allows me to run pretty much what I want. Since I am more of a Linux programmer than Windows, I installed Ubuntu Linux as the OS. Since you still need Windows for many things, Word, etc I thought about the various options:
1 Emulation via WINE - not as good as you need
2 Dual boot Windows and Linux - a pain if you need to switch between the two a lot
3 Run Windows inside Linux as a virtual machine. That is what I chose to do.
Steps I took:
1 booted up Windows via a backup of the original installation
2 cleaned up removing obsolete programs and files
3 saved the Windows install to a Virtual Disk using http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx (save to VHD not VHDX as we want to use it in Virtualbox and it does not support VHDX). This was saved to another drive that can then be accessed in Linux.
4 Rebooted with Linux
5 copied over the VHD file to Linux as I don't want to have to keep the external HDD attached
6 installed virtual box 4.3 in Ubuntu - ie. not the version that comes in the Ubuntu distribution https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Linux_Downloads
7 set up a Windows virtual machine using the VHD file
8 Opened Word and re-activated on line - no issues
9 Searched for activate windows and did that online - no issues