Living with Windows 7: And Now, The End is Near (Premium)

With Windows 7’s support end-of-life just days away, I find myself thinking about Windows 10, not Windows 7.

I don’t miss it.

Yes, there are little things that are better in Microsoft’s most recent desktop OS. Probably many of them. But the most striking thing about using Windows 7, really, is how familiar it is, how similar it is to Windows 10. For all of the work that Microsoft did, foolishly, to try and transform the platform into a “touch-first” mobile system with Windows 8 and then step back the most egregious changes in Windows 8.1 and then Windows 10, all it really did was arrive at a fairly logical conclusion. Windows 10 is, in many ways, where we would have arrived had Windows 8 never happened.

The vestiges of Windows 8 past, of course, are the biggest problems with Windows 10. Most would point to the obvious: The mobile apps platform (UWP) and app store (now called Microsoft Store) that so few people use. But if we’re honest about how Windows has evolved over the past 10 years, that isn’t the biggest problem.

No. The biggest problem is that Microsoft has tried in futile fashion to further monetize a product that its users only purchase once every several years. And the results are both negative and obvious. They are:

In-box advertising. This debuted in Windows 8, when I accurately called it a “slippery slope,” and it has since escalated over various versions of Windows 10.

In-box crapware, Another attempt at post-purchase monetization and one that was, in this case, first used by PC makers. (And always reviled by users, and even by Microsoft, which set up its now-hobbled/defunct Signature PC program to show PC makers how to deliver high-quality products to their collective customers. Oh the irony.)

In box-telemetry. The over-reliance on telemetry to triage and fix bugs also came from an effort to lower the cost of making Windows, so it really falls under that same monetization heading: Microsoft once maintained a large team of human testers who would both create tests to find bugs and would respond when customers had issues. Now it relies almost exclusively on in-box telemetry that cannot be disabled by individuals, and the results are obvious: Most Windows 10 feature updates, which are really full product upgrades, have had major reliability problems.

None of this was true when the software giant released Windows 7, and while the lack of a giant testing team can arguably impact this product too, it’s old enough and well-understood enough----and isn’t changed at all, as is Windows 10---that the negative ramifications are comparably minor. Collectively, these three areas, plus the mobile app platform and store, are what makes Windows 7 truly different from Windows 10. The rest is just façade (like the use of Aero Glass vs. the flat UI that debuted in Windows 8 and continues today) and a long list of minor changes that would have occurred naturally over any decade. That, yes, can add u...

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