Living with Windows 7: Party Like It’s 2009 (Premium)

Some readers seem to have missed the point of me going to the trouble of installing, configuring, and using Windows 7 here in January 2020. This isn’t about the first two of those tasks, installing and configuring. It’s about the third.

That is, literally one-third of all PC users in the world---about 500 million people, using Microsoft’s usage numbers---are still running Windows 7 today. And the clock is ticking. So the goal here is to discover what it’s like sticking with the most popular Windows version of all time in its waning days. And, as its support lifecycle ticks away, what it’s like to continue using Windows 7 into the unknown.

I’m not alone, of course. Literally hundreds of millions of people will do this, and they will not heed Microsoft’s advice to buy a new Windows 10 PC in order to stay up-to-date with software and security patches. They will, instead, stick with what works.

I respect that decision. Even in my limited recent usage of Windows 7 so far, I’ve been reminded of what it’s like to have a version of Windows that just gets the f@#k out of my way and isn’t constantly bombarding me with ads, crapware, and unnecessarily aggressive software updates. I’ve been reminded of how professional and pretty the Aero Glass user interface is. And of the many now-missing features that we, as Windows 10 users, have forgotten about.

But I’m not doing this permanently. My goal is to use Windows 7 regularly through its mid-January end-of-support milestone, record my findings, and then go back to Windows 10 while checking in from time-to-time to see what’s changed. The nature of this experiment necessitated me going through the awful task of just figuring out how to install Windows 7 on modern hardware---again, this system predates such modern niceties as USB 3.0 and M.2-based SSD, and its Setup application can’t even see those devices---and then get it fully-updated and configured so it can actually be used.

But my overview of that process was purposefully brief. I don’t feel that anyone should go to the trouble of installing Windows 7 today, no matter the perceived benefits. This OS will literally be orphaned this very month. Windows 10, hell, even Windows 8.1, is a much better choice, even given the downsides noted above and elsewhere on this site (as recently as this very week).

I will say that the immediate familiarity of Windows 7 has its benefits. When I evaluate non-Windows platforms like macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iOS, and others, mostly privately, but sometimes publicly, as with my Living with Chromebook series, I find that the biggest barrier to this transition is workflow-related. Windows 7 benefits, well, from being Windows. It’s familiar in that it works very much like Windows 10 works today. And, in my case, because the things that are different are still familiar and remembered. It really is like riding a bike.

A couple of examples.

In Windows 10, you can dis...

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