Reinstalling Window 7 in 2018 (Don’t unless you have to)

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Windows 7 was released, nearly 10 years ago. Since then, Microsoft has released 3 operating systems, Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. Yesterday, I clean installed Windows 7 on a netbook with only 1GB of RAM and a Intel Atom N455.

Above: Screenshot of Windows 7 Starter from Google Images.

First, I had to find the Windows 7 32 Bit ISO and download it from heidoc. After downloading, because the netbook had Windows 7 starter. I had to then, strip out the Ei.CFG file. This essentially now created a universal Windows 7 ISO. Now, onto installing Windows 7. I used Rufus to burn the files onto a USB. After about 10 minutes, I stuck the USB into the netbook, and installed Windows 7. This was the easy part of everything.

After getting to the desktop, I had to install a series of servicing updates, to get Windows 7 to actually update. 40 minutes later, all the updates were installed, and then onto installing the drivers. Unlike Windows 10, that installs all the drivers automatically, I had to install each driver on the netbook, manually. This took several minutes and restarts.

Finally after getting all of this completed. I had to download and install an additional 500+ MB of updates through Windows update.

Conclusion

Although, Windows 7 was a excellent, rock solid version of Windows back then. It is honestly, not worth reinstalling now, unless you absolutely have to (older hardware, software etc). Additionally, Windows 7 extended support officially ends on January 14th 2020.

Comments (16)

16 responses to “Reinstalling Window 7 in 2018 (Don’t unless you have to)”

  1. Tony Barrett

    I've installed Win7 many times, and it's actually pretty painless. Yes, there's a whole raft of post-install patches to apply, but once there done, you have an OS that's more stable than Win10 ever will be. Would you actually do it in 2018 though? Well, it's still compatible with pretty much every win32 app ever written, still runs very speedily in most cases, and doesn't have any of Win10's bad points, so don't rule it out completely. The end of support date is the only reason you should look at alternatives, and believe it or not, Win8.1 with a 3rd party start menu is actually a very good option if you don't want Win10.

    • polloloco51

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Agreed, it was mostly painless. For the average non-tech savvy person, it is truly not worth installing. Windows 8.1 is a good alternative to Windows 7, even though it has the Metro UI. It basically has an improved Windows 7 desktop, just without the classic start menu.




    • wright_is

      In reply to ghostrider:

      These days I put Windows 10 on new builds, where I can. We have a few older PCs that have to stay on Windows 7 for specific reasons, they get put back on 7, with WSUS Offline (see above).

      But Windows 10 is very stable, I haven't had a single blue screen in over 2 years, using various PCs for an average of 10 hours a day. I don't like the additional data stealing it does, but I turn pretty much everything off that I can, I find 10 a much better experience than 7.

    • AnOldAmigaUser

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I had a very old, not very powerful desktop PC that had come with Vista, upgraded to Windows 7 clean build, and then periodically rebuilt, using a clean install. A reboot or just powering it up would take upwards of 10 minutes and logging on would take another 2 minutes or so. It was basically unusable, so I put it in the Insider Program for Windows 8.

      After the first install of Windows 8, I could go from cold iron to being logged in in under a minute. The same with 8.1. It is now on Windows 10, still in the Insider Program, and now it is a little less than five minutes from cold iron to logged in. Not as good as 8/8.1, but still better than Windows 7. On newer hardware, it is much faster, obviously.

      Windows 10 is far from perfect, but I will still take it over Windows 7 at this point. As long as my applications run (and some of those are rather old as well) and I can get my data, the OS is largely an afterthought for me.

      That said, if Windows 7 is working for you, that is all that matters.

  2. wright_is

    I use WSUS Offline when re-installing PCs. It does everything much more quickly, it doesn't have to download each update as it goes, they are all on the desktop / on a stick (I created a stick a year ago and let it update every month with the new updates).

    This is an excellent way of getting the updates onto the device, it is also a lot quicker than using the Windows Update control panel.

  3. locust infested orchard inc

    karma77police would challenge you to a duel for your views on Windows 7.


    One does indeed need to move with the times and Win7 has had its day.

  4. Lauren Glenn

    Funny that you post this because I just reinstalled it on my old laptop since it was designed for Windows 7, not 10. It's licensed for 10 since I upgraded it in 2015 so I could reinstall it.... but there's so much background stuff in 10 that slow down this machine to where it's not worth it.... and the fact that it's being used solely to do firmware updates in Zune for my Zune HD which I'm holding on to. Zune works in Win10 but they deprecated a lot of the WMP features that made Zune easier.


    Anyway.... my Windows Updates took 14 hours to install. 157 of them.


    The only thing I hated about 7 compared to 10 was that 10 could self-repair itself and rarely gets a BSOD on bootup for me.


    But since all I use this for is to reload my Zune music on the go to my Zune HD if I'm on the road and away from home (and b/c it has a 2TB drive in it). It's just an offline copy of my music library and that's about it.


    You learn to appreciate the Activation in Win10, availability of ISOs for reinstall and for version updates, and cumulative updates also.

  5. epsjrno

    I am nowhere near as savvy as most of the readers on this site but for whatever reason, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have given me far fewer issues than Windows 7. I have not changed any of the hardware.


    I also feel that the updates for Windows are less problematic (except for the quality control issues we all know about) than the updates for Windows 7. While I won't go rushing around to upgrade all the Windows 7 machines under my influence to Windows 10, I will not go back to 7 nor will I miss it.

  6. Robert-Hostetler

    I overall prefer Windows 10, mainly because it works better with HiDPI/Retina displays and I don't recall my desktop workstation ever BSOD'ing on me. I also greatly prefer the fonts/graphics/design tastes that Microsoft now has and am looking forward to them evolving that over time.


    I have an older Dell laptop which sometimes crashes, but I think it started happening post Spectre/Meltdown firmware and software patches, so I am blaming Dell/Intel more than Microsoft.


    I also think despite the quality issues lately, Microsoft's come a long way since Windows XP RTM era. I switched to Macs around 2003/2004 because I was fed up with Microsoft both as an end user and a web developer with Windows being unstable + IE 6 and the Microsoft web developer tools not keeping up with HTML/CSS/JavaScript standards. So, my switch back to Windows 10 in 2016 (plus at that time focusing my career on Office 365 related projects) is actually a pretty big complement to Microsoft.


    I recall Paul saying that Microsoft needs to focus on finishing up what they've started. I think that, along with stability and performance updates would best benefit the Windows 10 platform going forward. For example, there really shouldn't be both the settings area modern app and the classic control panel anymore. Also the look and feel needs to be consistently modern, not have a mix of UI elements in a 10 year range all in use.


    At this point, only my work laptop still is using Windows 7 and that is due to corporate IT, not my choice. I only really use Office, Chrome, and PowerShell on it, which is overall an OK experience. But, there are headaches that if I was on Microsoft 365 wouldn't be there, such as having to jump on VPN just to make sure that my Active Directory join status doesn't go away and that I get all the software updates that I need.


    I'm supposed to be getting Windows 10 next year and I think I will be glad for it if that also includes the whole Microsoft 365 experience.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Robert-Hostetler:

      I agree with you about the settings, it should all be modern... But then it should work!

      For example, I needed to de-install some apps (Office 2016 click-to-run delivered with the PC, had to be removed to make way for Office 365 Pro Plus), but I couldn't deinstall them, because I didn't have the rights! Opened the old-style settings and deinstalled them with no problems.

      Stability and performance are fine on my devices; I haven't had a crash in years. But consistency and polish are really missing on the UI side of things.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to Robert-Hostetler:

      It seems that most options that move from Control Panel to Settings are dumbed down or removed. It's just nasty. Big sliders just for turning things on or off, with the old concept of drop list selections now gone. Obviously Settings was built for touch, which is quite irrelevant for MS now, and if Settings didn't have a search option, finding things would be too hard. I'm not saying Control Panel was perfect, but you knew where to go, and the dialog's to make changes were more logical.

    • Robert-Hostetler

      In reply to Robert-Hostetler:

      wright_is & ghostrider - you both nailed it on the control panel being the better/only option. There have been times I've had to do something there to.


      If I remember correctly, Microsoft did 3 internal releases of Office between 2003 and 2007 to sort out the whole Ribbon UI stuff so users didn't have to wait until 3 releases later for the new UI to be fully baked. It blows my mind that in the 6 years since Windows 8 came out Microsoft still hasn't sorted out essential areas of the OS like settings/configuration options.


      Azure, Office 365, Visual Studio, Xbox seem to be getting the most attention right now, so it isn't clear to me when/if Windows will get sorted out. I hope that between Windows 7 going away and Microsoft 365 being promoted more and more that this will get bumped up in priority.


      I'm still currently preferring the overall Microsoft experience to the Apple one, but consistency and polish are elements that Apple does better.


      Usually once I get my PC setup, I don't have to jump into that stuff very often, but it is still a bad user experience and makes me wonder what else is going on. Kind of similar to the life hack Van Halen used for arriving at a concert gig - checking the requested bowl of M&Ms and if any brown ones are there, then the venue likely messed up all the technical requirements to safely accomodate all their gear and crew.

  7. delicieuxz

    Windows 7 is still a rock-solid OS and does basically everything that Windows 10 does. And you can download an updates ISO of Windows 7 that includes all updates so that you don't have to download any through Windows Update after installing the OS.


    "Unlike Windows 10, that installs all the drivers automatically, I had to install each driver on the netbook, manually."


    Windows 7 was the first OS that included a large amount of drivers pre-installed so that hardware would work out of the box. It might not have all the pre-installed drivers that Windows 10 does, but it still has a lot of them. I wouldn't use Windows 10's pre-installed or automatically-downloaded drivers, anyway. They're often out of date or something different than the best one.


    Windows 10 is, for the most part, just a reskin of Windows 7. Windows 8 was the same. For reliability and stability, Windows 7 is still a much better OS than Windows 10 is.


    The only thing in your installation journal that's actually different than installing Windows 10 is maybe that you installed some additional drivers after the fact. But, then with Windows 7 you don't have to spend an hour or so removing pre-installed bloatware and navigating all the different settings panels to tweak the OS to turn off tons of data-harvesting and other unwanted stuff.


    You could have downloaded a 2018-update ISO of Windows 7, including one that has drivers for USB and NVMe already added. Likewise, a person also can install Windows 10 from a 2015 or 2016 ISO and then have to manually install a whole bunch of updates to bring it up to the latest patch. That would be more comparable to your installation of Windows 7.

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