Image: Windows 10 Logo
Written by: Elijah Moon Blackwell
While most of you are probably using the latest release of Microsoft’s operating system, others choose to stay in the past.
This is a problem considering Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 will no longer be supported and updated.
According to the Steam Hardware & Software Survey, as of October 7, 2019, roughly 17% of players are using Windows 7 64-bit. Of course, this is only gathered from the people that opted into the survey.
On the Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition Steam forums there is a thread titled “If Win10 Only? No thank you, PASS.” In this thread, Windows 7 users state their case on why they will stick with Windows 7 to the bitter end.
So there is a small but quite passionate Windows 7 community. Why exactly do they refuse to upgrade?
Let’s look a three reasons why Windows 7 users are so loyal to the operating system.
In no particular order:
Reason 1: Windows 10 is Full of Spying Software
If you Google “Windows 10 spy” you will be overloaded with links to articles explaining how to limit the data that Windows 10 collects.
It is true that spyware exists and it isn’t easy to remove. It is called Telemetry and it is constantly running on your machine. There are also other tasks running in the background relating to Telemetry but called something else. It can appear to be very sketchy if you value privacy.
The claim is that using Windows 7 is more private than 10.
However, everything has spyware, even Windows 7.
Use a web browser? Have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Use YouTube? They all have some form of data collection. Even Mozilla Firefox uses data collection. Their FAQ admits to this. Here is a pretty good blog explaining cookies and other data collection methods (and what types of data are collected).
Windows 7 also received Telemetry updates. The most recent Telemetry update being July 2019. So…Windows 7 has some of the same spyware as Windows 10.
I’m not saying we should sit down and take privacy violations, but citing privacy as a reason to use Windows 7 doesn’t quite make sense.
Windows 7 will not receive security updates. Viruses and malware may be easier to develop for Windows 7 vulnerabilities. More precautions would be needed for exploring the web or downloading software. Not exactly privacy friendly when your info is more at risk.
Windows 7 users are not completely wrong for this line of reasoning.
While Windows 7 spies, it is much easier to remove. A clean install of Windows 7 Ultimate is bare bones. There isn’t a bunch of preinstalled bloatware like Skype or the Xbox Companion App or anything like that. It’s basic, which opens the doors to build your machine how you like it. Stuff is easier to remove and typically it isn’t added back after an update.
Windows 7 also does not come with the personal assistant Cortana. It is meant to always be listening for commands voiced by the user. It also can cause performance issues.
Cortana has been accused of always listening and using conversations as a form of data collection. It probably does happen.
Cortana can be removed but it isn’t easy for those not used to using Powershell or Registry Editor.
I can see where users come from when it comes to privacy but Windows 10 can be edited and made more secure with less Telemetry usage. The lack of security updates also makes Windows 7 more prone to malicious attacks.
Reason 2: Automatic Updates
I cannot tell you how often this gets cited as an issue.
Typically when someone is talking about how bad Windows 10 is, it’s something along the lines of “There are a lot of issues. Automatic updates being one.”
On Windows 10 when an update is ready to be released it will automatically install and restart your computer.
Another major drawback to Windows 10 updates is the amount and how often they break. Sometimes a Windows update will cause more issues than before.
There are ways to turn off automatic updates.
When Windows 10 first released the update issue was extremely bad. I’d be in the middle of a game and my machine would crash, then a Windows update would begin.
After a while this changed. Now Windows 10 will ask you when is a good time to update. It’s not perfect, but much better than it was.
You can completely remove automatic updates. Again, it’s not easy for those not used to advanced computer usage, but it is possible. Seeing a trend here? Windows 10 can be trimmed down to where you want it and there are free programs to do this for you.
It should be easier to manage updates.
It is kind of annoying that you have to go out of your way to get Windows 10 where you want it. Microsoft has made it quite difficult to customize when and how you want to receive updates.
I have managed to turn updates completely off unless I check for them. It wasn’t until recently I was bombarded with task bar messages asking me to upgrade. Though the process wasn’t something the average computer user could comfortably do. Sure, tutorials exist online, but those not familiar with advanced computing will find it difficult to turn off updates.
This is one of the few issues where I can understand the backlash. Come on Microsoft, make it easier to manage updates.
Reason 3: The UI is bad and generally ugly
The most subjective of criticisms is the appearance of Windows 10. I can’t not really debate this issue because it is purely opinion based.
You can make Windows 10 look like previous releases. I’ve never tried it myself (because Windows 10 looks fine to me) but it is possible by using Classic Shell. There are several tutorials floating about how to use Classic Shell to customize your Windows 10 look and feel.
Microsoft should make it easier, though.
Regardless of the issues I would upgrade to Windows 10.
Yes, this website is all about retro computing and gaming. That doesn’t mean I’m stuck in the past.
My main desktop is used to pay bills, stream movies and everything in between. I keep the latest version of Windows to ensure I don’t run into compatibility issues. When I am working on CD-ROM Fossil or need to run older software I turn to the many older machines I own.
Currently, I have two PCs at my desk. One is an always offline Windows 7 desktop for older games and software. The second is a always online Windows 10 desktop for newer games and software. I get the both of best worlds.
If you hold onto Windows 7 due to the easiness of playing older games, then have two desktops.
Microsoft will stop support Windows 7 and software (eventually hardware) will no longer be fully compatible with the OS.
For me it seems like common sense to use Windows 10; however, I can see why users choose to stay. My recommendation is to either rip the band-aid off and upgrade to Windows 10 or have two machines each with a different OS.
The more extreme alternative is Linux. Many distributions of Linux have become more user friendly. For some it will be hard to adjust to the many differences. The plus side though is once you familiarize yourself with a distribution you can customize every aspect of it. Gaming on Linux can be hard. Some distributions are made for gaming but that doesn’t mean game will work flawlessly. Sometimes dual booting with Windows is a requirement. I have three Linux machines. If you are curious I use LuBuntu, GalliumOS and Linux Mint.
It’s a complex issue but I will always advocate for upgrading.
There are going to be a variety issues in the next few years regarding Windows 7. I would upgrade (or get a second machine) now and begin gutting the preinstalled Microsoft stuff you don’t want.
Avoid the headache and upgrade. I have a multitude of machines for a variety of uses. It’s the best compromise for those wanting to hold on to the older OS’s and still utilize them.
How do you feel about Windows 7 and Windows 10? Or any OS for that matter? Let me know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org