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Breaking up and moving on: Life after Windows 7

To reiterate the main point of the previous blog post: Windows 7 may still look fine to you, but it is dying. On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop publishing security updates for Windows 7. From then on, the operating system will be fair game for malware.

Fortunately, there are several viable exit strategies: Upgrade to Windows 10, switch to a different operating system such as Linux or macOS, or even go fully mobile. This article will offer specific advice on how to move away from Windows 7.


The obvious upgrade path from Windows 7 is Windows 10, and Microsoft would really like you to take it. Contrary to what you may have heard, this is not such a bad choice. Yes, Windows 10 is an "operating system as a service" and as such, it keeps mutating a bit every six months through feature upgrades. This has become a problem for some users, but with precautions, most issues can be managed or even avoided. To put it succinctly: Many of the reports badmouthing Windows 10 have been greatly exaggerated.

Even though Microsoft has repeatedly announced that it would cut off the possibility to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, the free upgrade process still worked at the time of this writing (July 2019). All that's needed is a valid product key for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and a decent internet connection.

Don't get stuck without a way back

Before proceeding, be sure to make a backup. Yes, it's tedious and time-consuming, but it's still better than losing all your system settings and data if something should go wrong during the process of upgrading your computer. For this purpose, you should use an external hard drive connected directly to your computer via eSATA or USB 3.

The integrated backup feature of Windows 7 may not be the best backup choice in this instance, since you're about to replace the operating system. For fastest results, use an imager such as EaseUS Todo Backup or Macrium Reflect Free.

If you are not concerned about system data, you can also just copy the folder containing your user data. The easiest way to do this is by using a file manager such as FreeCommander, SpeedCommander or Total Commander. First, activate the respective setting to show hidden and system files, then navigate to the folder %userprofile%. Copy all files and folders to a different drive, making sure you include the hidden "AppData" folder. However, you should be aware that this will take much longer than a straight system image.

Upgrade your existing computer to Windows 10

The easiest migration path is to upgrade your existing Windows 7 installation directly to Windows 10. First, make sure you have your Windows 7 (or Windows 8.1) product key written down somewhere. Should you have misplaced your product key, you can use a tool such as Belarc Advisor or Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder to recover it.

Before the next step, you should really back up your computer. I mean, really, REALLY. Don't worry, I'll still be here when you are done. Take your time.

To perform a so-called "in-place upgrade," you will need an empty USB thumb drive with a minimum capacity of 8 GBytes. Then, download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft and follow its instructions. If everything goes well, the software should find your previous product key and transfer it automatically. After about an hour of reboots and waiting, your computer should be running Windows 10. Depending on your BIOS settings, you might have to tell your computer to boot from the USB thumb drive for setup to continue.

The direct upgrade process may fail at the first attempt: The Windows 10 Media Creation Tool may report that your system is incompatible and list the problems it found. Some of these can be worked around, such as insufficient memory or storage space. Type the error message into a search engine exactly as you are seeing it and open at least three of the search results to check for different approaches to your problem.

After the upgrade is complete, you may find out that your old computer is too slow for Windows 10. In this case, it's fairly easy to migrate your existing installation to a new machine through an ISO image. Essentially, this process creates a Windows install image which ditches all the device-specific drivers, but keeps all the apps and settings. Tenforums.com has a good tutorial on the process. German users can also use c't WIMage maintained by German computer magazine c't – this English-language tutorial walks you through the process.

Upgrade to a new computer with Windows 10

In some instances, your computer may simply be too old to run Windows 10. One solution can be to switch to a Linux distribution with low hardware requirements. The other solution is to buy a new computer.

If you are switching to Windows 10, you may want to keep as much of your current set-up as possible. There are a number of methods to migrate data from one computer to another:

EaseUS Todo PCTrans Free is limited to two applications and 500 MByte of data. The Professional version without limits costs US$ 50.

Laplink PCmover Express costs US$ 15. It has no MByte limit, but it does not transfer any applications. This feature is reserved for the Professional version which costs US$ 45.

Microsoft suggests a deployment plan to migrate multiple machines from Windows 7 to 10 using the User State Migration Tool. This is free, but not exactly trivial to use.

My personal experience with commercial tools has been hit and miss. PCTrans and PCmover will migrate commonly used apps well enough. However, the settings of less popular commercial applications and shareware tools are often not transferred. Often, several hours of tedious manual work were required to complete the transfer to the new machine.

The most thorough approach is a migration by hand. This involves first copying your old user data, i.e. the Documents, Pictures and Video folders to the new computer and reinstalling all the software on the target machine. The "Uninstall or change a program" feature in the Windows Control Panel is a great help here. The next step is to check where the applications store their user's settings. There are several possibilities:

Some programs store settings in an *.ini file which can either be located in the application's directory or within the AppData folder. Copy the *.ini file to the new computer to transfer your settings.

Other applications collect all settings in a profile folder within the AppData folder. Copy this folder to the new machine to keep using the same settings.

Some applications store their settings in a database provided by the operating system called the Windows Registry. System tools such as Process Monitor will display the Registry keys accessed by the application. Using the Windows Registry Editor, these keys can be exported on the old machine and imported into the Registry database of the new computer.

If all this sounds very complicated and tedious to you, you should possibly consult a local computer repair shop and ask whether they provide a data transfer service. If they do, follow up by asking about their migrating method – if they only fire up PCmover and leave everything else behind, it might be cheaper to purchase a license and do it yourself.

One more thing: Some applications require to be activated through the Internet and they only allow a limited number of activations. Be sure to deactivate the application on your old computer so you don't lose your activation.

How to leave Windows behind

Given the hassle that can be involved in migrating to a new version of Windows, you might consider a switch to a different operating system altogether. If you decide to switch to Linux or macOS, you might be able to keep much of your Windows applications' data and some settings. Should you decide to go the Android/ChromeOS route, you will usually only be able to keep your data.

If you decide to migrate to Linux, you might be able to keep your current computer. If you migrate to macOS, you should move your Windows 7 hard drive into an external drive enclosure.

Here are some specific tips and links on how to migrate common Windows applications to Linux or macOS:

Google Chrome: Copy your user profile from the Windows AppData folder to the user profile folder of your new operating system:

Windows:  
C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default
Linux:  
/home/USERNAME/.config/google-chrome/default
macOS:  
/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default

Microsoft Internet Explorer: This one is relatively straightforward. While still on your Windows 7 computer, import your bookmarks into Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, depending on what you plan to use on your target machine. Then, migrate the browser to your target operating system as described in the sections "Google Chrome" and "Mozilla Firefox."

Microsoft Outlook: You can easily export your calendar as an .ics file and import it into a calendar app on your target system, such as Thunderbird Lightning. It is similarly easy to migrate your address book using the export feature – for best results, select "Tab-separated values (Windows)." Transferring your e-mails, however, may involve installing an old version of Thunderbird or using a commercial tool.

Mozilla Firefox: Copy your user profile from the Windows AppData folder to the user profile folder of your new operating system:

Windows:  
C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles
Linux:  
/home/USERNAME/.mozilla/firefox
macOS:  
/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles

Mozilla Thunderbird: Copy your user profile from the Windows AppData folder to the user profile folder of your new operating system:

Windows:  
C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles
Linux:  
/home/USERNAME/.thunderbird
macOS:  
/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Thunderbird/Profiles

SoftMaker Office: SoftMaker Office stores all user data in the "SoftMaker" folder. First, install SoftMaker Office on the new operating system, then overwrite the "SoftMaker" folder with the data from the previous Windows installation. This should transfer all settings and templates to the new machine.

Windows:  
C:\Users\USERNAME\Documents\SoftMaker
Linux:  
/home/USERNAME/SoftMaker
macOS:  
/Users/USERNAME/Documents/SoftMaker

Note: Some settings specific to the operating system cannot be migrated.

A web search might be useful for finding out how to migrate other software. In the search form, enter the name of your application and add keywords such as "migration," "move to another computer" or "backup settings." And be sure to check your applications' online help: Some of them actually include an export feature and useful migration advice.

Are you still using Windows 7? Be sure to tell us about your migration plans in the comments section below.


Comments

Bradley Ridnour

2019-09-14 17:03

In addition to thunderbird, there are several linux email clients that will support Outlook.com and Microsoft Exchange email. Two that I've used:

- Evolution (with the ews connector). It integrates seamlessly into the GNOME desktop environment.
- Mailspring. This is a nice looking program. It's only downside is that it requires a "mailspring" account for some of its features.

Doktor Thomas

2019-09-12 03:26

win10 is simply awful and unacceptable.
It's poor performance and endless updates remind one of Windows ME (Millions of Errors).
It is unethical to push win10 on anyone.
The public should stand firm on rejecting win10.
Q: What is the definition of "illogical"?
A: win10 ©2019

mccay100

2019-07-19 11:25

I sure wish I could still find Win 7 Pro disk with a working serial number.
I had on an Acer laptop through my work at school (school's laptop), but the laptop died and now school has switched to Win 10 and won't give me a Win 7 Pro disk for my own use.

I have an old personal Gateway laptop with Vista, which works fine. I have several other newer personal laptops (not the school's), but Win 7 Pro is nowhere these days to be found. Sadly.

I run Win 10 Pro on these, now upgraded to 1903 Win 10 Pro. Oh well, I will try picking up a few refurbished laptops/desktops as I've been itching to work with Linux Mint and maybe other flavors.
I don't have a big problem with Win 10 Pro, but it is VERY bloated with way too many things I don't need or want installed. .

Peter

2019-07-24 17:08

I'm still happy with 8.1 with Classis Shell installed to make the menus etc. usable. Security updates until 2023. Hopefully 10 will be better by then!

Alan S.

2019-07-18 20:20

I prefer to stick with XP which is good enough for me, except for word processing, where on a separate computer I still use Word Perfect 5.1 for DOS, now 26 years old but does things that no windows version can do. I save my files as a PCL (print-to-file) which I transfer to the XP computer and there convert to PDF, then use Acrobat.. XP also serves me on the internet.
I once used win7 on someone else's computer for a few weeks and hated it. Win 10 apart from being spyware seems to cause endless problems. Read about them in all the fora. Also in only a few years (or less) MS will bring out Win 11 and stop support for win 10, so any update to WIN 10 is only temporary. Must we always be in a state of constant continuous change? Can we not rest and keep steady for a while?
I learned to touch-type on a 84 keyboard, then they changed it all and I have never got used to it since, mixing up the shift and control keys.
Change should be only for the better, but nowadays it is often for the worse. Planned obsolescence has destroyed the concept of quality. Soon we will all blow ourselves up without realising what we are doing!

Robert

2019-07-16 14:09

An honest and helpful article. I used Windows 10 at work and I won't move to it at home ever. Like others who have commented I still use older versions. I have XP on a 17 year old laptop that I use for video capture and on a tower of a similar age for photo scanning with a SCSI connection. A 13-year-old Vista laptop still works for many jobs and I have a Win 7 laptop for daily use.

I have been using computers for 32 years and I have a good knowledge. I have tried Linux many times and never continue. But maybe one day? If you're doing basic things: word processing, web browsing, email and watching videos it's a good choice.

Dennis

2019-07-16 02:45

Purchased a new laptop with Windoze 10 installed. 16 gigs of RAM, 8 core processor and it feels like an 8088 with 640K of RAM. Those updates and useless apps along with built in spyware were the last straw. Bill Gates will never reach into my wallet again. The operating system I installed is not available due to political farce. My laptop now runs like a gulf stream jet.

For the time being Win7 will stay on my desktop. I did run Win10 for a few days when Billy was giving it away. When it would not allow me to install an update for my $1000.00 photo software, because Bill didn't recognize the company, Win10 was gone. How Microsoft gets away with openly stealing personal information is beyond me. Mention China and it makes front page news for months. Good article and thank you to the person who mentioned Reactor OS. I was involved with for decades with open source software and forgot about it. Good comments in response shows intelligent life does exist on the planet.

Malcolm Jones

2019-07-16 02:07

If you use a good anti-virus and anti-malware program the is NO NEED to leave Win 7.
People writing as you have merely cause worry
I have machines running Win XP as well as win 7 (and Linux) and they are al working happily.

Fred C

2019-07-16 09:26

I see plenty of articles like this and they seem to mostly push the idea to give up and move to 10, and seem mention the alternative OS's as there is no way to ignore them. Who pays them? Seems funny we didn't see the things claimed for 7 having happened to XP. I still see it around sometimes. How did they avoid malware armageddon? And XP was not nearly as entrenched as 7 is, an OS a huge amount of people love. How likely will companies ditch 7 support when that is what is preferred and in use? I think the anti virus companies will still support 7 for quite a while. I bet most of the bad things going on are similar for all currently used OS's. Drivers and software took a long time to start falling off for older OS's. Sure businesses and some users, mostly those making money with their pc's, will be left out faster but they are the ones that can update using their profits. I am going to see what goes on with this and not run around like a chicken with it's head cut off.

kelltic

2019-07-16 01:14

No intention of giving up Win 7 just because Microsoft isn't going to support it anymore. My old XP machine never ran better than it did after Microsoft stopped messing it up. I recently bought another (refurbished) Win 7 computer and adopted my friend's old XP baby.

I'm just going to ask Reziac what hardware I need to purchase and store away for future replacement parts.

Leirbag28

2019-07-15 20:40

There are more apps and Drivers for Linux than you think! Wayy more...you are justnot looking hard enough! And some are way too easy to install: while your computer is connected to the internet...plug in your printer via USB to it....and wait....BAM! Drivers installed automatically...at least on Ubuntu 16.04.2 and up and 18.04.2 MATE.

In my experiece....MATE is The overall absolutely best desktop to have and easiest to do things and best balance between modern and old and lightweight and full featured...its a shame most people install GNOME3 becuae ubuntu made that its main distro.

I currently recommend Ubuntu 18.04.2 MATE 64 bit if possibible...32but exists as well but less apps available for it....you may have no choice and be able to only use 32bit.

And now ironically SoftMaker Office supports Linux way less than the Windows and Mac counter parts...infact Presenter does not support Video or audio clip insert into presentations (audio it claims it does but never works)...ths needs to happen ASAP and needs to be advertised!

Softmaker Office is quite excellent especially its PowerPoint Clone.

Come On...Video Support and please fix inserting Transistions as currently they need to be clicked twice to take...on the paid full version....works fine in the free

SoftMaker

2019-07-16 10:34

We're currently researching the possibilities for video support under Linux. Unfortunately however, Linux doesn't offer an API for it.

You mentioned a problem regarding the transitions. This is new to us. Could you please contact our support team with the details about it?

Please use our online contact form: www.softmaker.com/en/support-assistant

Mike PARKER

2019-07-15 20:23

Me? Windows 10 to Zorin OS comes complete with Softmaker software :) . Zorin os 15 ultimate is only 39 € the Lite version is free

Phill Konowski

2019-07-15 15:04

If you migrate from Windows 7 to Linux and you are new in Linux, and you want "low hardware requirements", Linux Mint Xfce is just for you.

Imnotarobot

2019-07-15 12:22

I found Linux Mint to be great, but the process of enabling printing was very difficult and not very functional. Is there a Linux system that is as easy as Windows to setup a printer?

Also scanning and OCR options were lacking in Mint.

I've been updating my computers to Win10 and with SSDs with good success. It enabled me to finally part with a few to needy friends without feeling guilty that I was giving them of a white elephant.

This article is refreshingly clear and concise. Kudos! The comments are great too!

Reziac

2019-07-15 13:56

Since I loathe the cellphone-style desktop (Win10 annoys me no end and makes my eyes bleed) -- when I need a 'modern' OS I've been using PCLinuxOS with either KDE/Plasma (tweaked to look and behave like WinXP) or the Trinity desktop (which natively looks and behaves like XP). I've tried over 100 linux distros and PCLOS has been by far the most "just works" of the lot -- in particular with regard to hardware recognition without special effort, and general lack of annoying bugs and holes. It's also one of the best for performance. (It's slick on my 11 year old Core2Duo, where it mostly does streaming media.) The current edition comes with backup software preinstalled.

Mageia/KDE would be my next choice for "complete and works", but it needs newer hardware to run well.

Mint/Cinnamon makes a nice desktop if you like it out of the box (and on older hardware it probably has the best performance of any fullfledged distro other than Puppy), but I found it too limiting in annoying ways.

BTW, softmaker folks... be aware reCAPTCHA only really works with Chrome. Other browsers can go round and round forever and never get 'verified'.

SoftMaker

2019-07-15 14:17

We have tested the reCAPTCHA widget with Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Edge and couldn't find any problems. Could you please let us know which browser (version) you are using?

kelltic

2019-07-16 01:17

Really? You really tested over 100 Linux distros? Thanks for doing all that research for us.

Phi1123 Philip B

2019-07-16 05:10

recaptcha is working on firefox esr fine on AVlinux and DEBIAN right now

Imarobot

2019-07-15 14:01

Linux Mint has "built in" support for most printers and scanners which can easily be set up - as easy as on Windows. If you face any problems installing your printer or scanner there is more than enough support available simply googleing on 'ubuntu [printer-type,scanner-type] setup' . It is very unlikely, however not impossible that you can not install your specific printer or scanner on Linux Mint.

juris500

2019-07-15 23:12

Hello, I have used Linux now entirely for 20 years. Printing is in fact very easy.
You might consider installing "system-config-printer". It is a GUI for the Linux printing system,
CUPS. It auto-detects many printers but also easy to make manual configurations.
Drivers can be found here: www.openprinting.org/drivers
and manufacturers like Epson provide Linux-drivers for both scanners and printers.

HAV

2019-07-15 23:19

I have had that "scanning and OCR options were lacking" problem in PCLinuxos and I think it may be common on most if not all Linux distributions.
The fix is to go to your printer manufactures web site and download the proprietary Linux drivers for your printer. Doing that worked on my HP MFP.

Jeff Grant

2019-07-16 13:33

If you're talking about finding printing and scanning to be difficult or 'lacking' in Linux Mint I think you must be doing something wrong or missing something pretty fundamental. I've been using Mint for about six years now (I abandoned Windows for Linux almost ten years ago) and have never once on any number of computers which I built or upgraded for others, had any problem whatever it doing either of those things. If you read this can you say precisely what your problems have been?

gmandac

2019-07-22 18:31

I have heard of printer issues over the years with Linux. I have an HP printer and found that HP makes Linux software but also that Linux has generic software that also works for me. Can't speak for other manufacturers. As for scan, there is scan software. In Linux Mint it is called Simple Scan.

allan

2019-07-27 16:27

Try Ubuntu or google for a list of linux Unix os down load a few after researching pros/ cons of each one I still have my linix fedora 2 yea old one instant internet connections instant printer recognition OCR recognition ect mint / mandriver all were 32bit not tried the 64 bit lot yet or I did windows and my mother boARD SCREWED UP BOARD BIAS SAME TIME MY HDD PARTITIONS SIGH

Janis Patterson

2019-07-15 12:13

I have a question.

I am a total techno-naif and only understood about half of the article. Two years ago I got so angry and frustrated at MS' antics, forced, over the top and useless-to-me changes that I just walked away and bought a Mac. (Love it!) Problem is, I still have two MS computers that contain a lot of data I don't want to lose, but don't need on my daily-use Mac. Both have Windows 7 on them, but neither are connected to the internet.

1. Can I continue to use these two old computers? I always transfer the files I need by thumb drive, not the internet.

2. Will my closed-system computers continue to run Windows 7 even after the MS kill date?

Thank you.

SoftMaker

2019-07-15 12:34

Thanks for your comment. Technically, you can continue using Windows 7 also after support has ended. However, it will have a severe impact on your system security. Disconnecting the computer from the internet most probably mitigates the risks though.

You might want to have a look at the previous blog post which gives a more detailed overview on the implications of the ending Windows 7 support:

softmaker.com/.../...

Alwatson

2019-07-15 13:08

If it’s not connected to the internet, it will continue serving you until the computer dies. Nothing to worry about.

Mikael

2019-07-15 12:07

I'm using Win 10 on two computers, one work station and one laptop.
And in many cases I think Win 10 works better than 7. One thing that works
much more smooth is USB drivers. Often using virtual com ports, on win 7 if
you disconnected the device before closing port you got trouble. In Win 10
it is just to open the port again.
BUT!
There is one thing that is a disaster with Win 10: The automatic restart after
update!!
I don't know how many hours work I have lost when the computer suddenly
reboot in the middle of my work. Calculation that should run over night and
when I'm back at work the computer is rebooted.
It is criminal!
And as I understand, there is no way to turn it off?

oniel

2019-07-16 08:37

You can't turn it off, but you can postpone the restart until your work is finished.
settings>update>change active hours: The restart should not take place during active hours.
settings>update>advanced options: Turns update restart notifications on.
When you get an update restart notification, pop-up or on the notification board, go to
settings>update>schedule the restart: To schedule the restart up to a week later.

Mikael

2019-07-19 11:31

I have put the update to night hours but still it reboot at day time. I have seen the pop up
a few times, but it is just a small notice in the lower right corner on ONE screen. If you work on the other screen at the moment it is likely you wont see it. And suddenly.....reboot...

And when you use the computer for 24h test sequences for PCB:s then you are not happy when you come to work at morning for shipping the system and the computer have done an update and rebooted at night.

Chris Davies

2019-07-15 12:00

Microsoft is turning computers from devices you do work on to devices you consume content with. The playbook of all the large players nowadays is to get people dependent on their products in every part of their life, so it's hard (or even impossible) to leave.
Softmaker Office is a great product. It's a shame that the Linux community has such a kneejerk reaction to shareware software. They are their own worst enemy.
To Windows 7 users, please give it a go. Some things are different, but Linux is better than Windows in everything apart from polish.

Derek Smith

2019-07-15 17:43

I too am irritated by the shareware requirement in Linux forums and such. I used Softmaker Office on one of my laptops (sorry, Softmaker, it's of 2012 vintage, but still does everything I need, and I write professionally) so using the freebie on Linux in a no-brainer.

It's a bit much to criticise a commercial freebie for an office suite yet include Chrome in the Linus OS. But mention it on a forum and you might as well put a target on your back. It's not all of them of course, not even the majority, but it is an energetic minority. Choice of operating systems should be on the grounds of effectiveness for your requirements, not compliance with a mantra.

Laszlo Kovacs

2019-07-15 11:20

I upgraded to Windows 10. Then later moved completely to Linux Mint (Mate).

Benno

2019-07-15 20:10

I did use mint now i use zorin

David

2019-07-15 11:06

I am using Windows 10 and as well as the initial install, I think I have reset it twice and installed several major upgrades. It obviously depends on your system and probably internet speed but I think it took me nearer to 3 hours. Before you buy a new computer, consider a RAM upgrade. I did not use a USB stick, all that is required is plenty of free hard disk space, probably 20GB. The important thing is to back up your work but you have to accept that some programs will not work so you need to be prepared to reinstall your programs. If you don't have enough room, a reset will delete your program directories but it does give you a list of what it has done and an indication where to get them. Windows 10 wants you to use a live mail account as your windows identification which may affect your user account. I was trying to work out the old school method of copying a whole disk. is it xcopy C: E: /S /Q /H /K?

uber geek

2019-07-15 10:27

How lovely I still kept mine 2000 NT :-)

It is not too hard to find still working AV software, utilities, tools and
even giveaway of AbilityOffice or Atlantic Word Processor that does the job
with new .microsuckzX extension.

Some backup software is still available,
I can enable second CPU core and enable hold instructions by japanese CPU tweaking tool
- that it can be energy efficent -or- manage CPU Process Priority by other most know
CPU tweaking tools /legacy on download area/.

That I still can use it with Firewall/proxy to searching on internet or using YT.
Emails can be read by mine old C>64 that I need modern PC only for games :]

The most funny thing is cloaking mine *ozilla clone browser user agent to convince
stupid websites /authors :D/ that I use the new one Chrome 7x on Windows 10.

Long life for power users that still use their old OS for more than 10% of its abilities.

ereilad

2019-07-15 10:07

I have an older computer that got to the point where it always crashed after updates. Windows would never stop installing the updates that failed every other day and then restoring the system. It ate up hours each time. I finally installed Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and added the Chrome browser. Chrome is like an operating system within an operating system. It allows me to synchronize the same setup I use in my Newer windows machine and chrome has apps. The Ubuntu has an office suite and some basic programs. It is supported for several years and goodbye to the time consuming and broken updates.

Dave Lennon-Copeland

2019-07-15 09:41

My comment did not work... ah well

Dave Lennon-Copeland

2019-07-15 09:32

Windows 7 is great and I'm gonna stay with it. There will be someone out there that will offer support and/or updates beyond the Microsoft cutoff date.
Microsoft (in my opinion) has shot themselves in the foot by dropping Windows 7, yes it is old but it is also well known and used by millions of Windows users worldwide.
I have looked at the pros and cons of Windows 10 and Windows 7 vs Windows 10; I am NOT convinced that Windows 10 is really any better.

My 82-year old father has a new laptop with Windows 10 built-in; he does not like the bloated OS.

As the old adage goes: If it works, don't fix it... Windows 10 is NOT necessary for my needs; I will NOT be migrating to it... Long live Windows 7!

Andre Couttenier

2019-07-15 08:34

Since many years I'm a user of Linux (Now Ubuntu 18.04) which I use for most applications. I also have the official VM Ware workstation + VM player under which Windows 95, Windows XP Pro and Windows 7 is used to run older programs without hassle or interference from Microsoft. All windows operating systems are curtailed and prevented from going on the internet. I'm very satisfied with my present setup of things.
A. Couttenier

Tim Chipman

2019-07-15 08:32

Just a few brief notes - thanks for writing this article! It is clear, well laid out, summarizes key issues nicely, and it is bonus you actually talk about alternative to windows as one path forward which is often not mentioned. I strongly feel that having tools like Office Suite from Softmaker available for Linux - really help make linux a viable option for windows users who want a functional environment so big kudos to Softmakre for supporting their product not just on Windows and MacOS (!)

Small footnotes for maybe-benefit of others. (I work as IT Consultant and have bumped into some of these issues many times).

- Win10 in place upgrades generally are very painless. I've found this is one thing microsoft have done well with win10, is the process of updating to it / and then update within win10 to the latest spring-fall major release. For the most part these in-place upgrades go well / on vast majority of systems. I've upgraded >100 computers like this in the past few years, and I think I have had only one older box give me serious trouble.

- as a general data point. I've used many different migration tools to clone hard drives to SSD Drives for clients as part of these upgrades. Moving from old-spinning-rust disk to SSD is a huge performance boost at modest cost, and highly recommended. It can also give you a nice 'back out strategy' if needed, ie (a) Attach SSD to computer (b) Clone your Win7 environment to SSD first (c) Unplug old drive, leave it alone and run from SSD (d) THEN do your Win10 upgrade / or if moving to linux do a clean linux install on SSD and gradually migrate your data off the old disk.

By taking this approach, your old windows environment remains untouched and you can always 'go back' if something goes horribly wrong with the new environment. But having a good backup is still a really good idea! :-)

- It is maybe worth mentioning, of all the free disk clone tools I've used for move to SSD, I think this one is probably the more robust / least likely to suffer 'issues': "MiniTool Partition Wizard" from www.partitionwizard.com/.../ (Macrium does work fine some of the time, but I sometimes have issues with it / or it runs quite slowly in some cases I find?)

- once you are on your new win10 environment, it can be sometimes worth running an update tool from your hardware manufacturer to see if there are updates for your hardware - BIOS or core drivers. (If such updates/tools for updates are available). I"ve seen some cases where an older laptop has weird power-management issues in WIn10 that didn't exist on Win7; but once bios is updated - they are resolved / things work better. Be advised that Bios updates need to be done according to the recommended procedure, ie, don't power off the system part way through! :-)

- Finally. For those looking for a light-weight linux for older hardware. I've had good luck with "Zorin" lite edition for such gear. (zorinos.com/download/) Note zorin is available in various flavours, including versions for newer hardware / and non-free versions. But the free lite edition is perfectly feature rich, robust, and well suited for older gear I've found. It is also based on a well established linux distro 'under the hood' so long term support should not be a problem / and core package management is not anything weird or unfamiliar as a result.

Anyhoo. Lots of great stuff here, so many thanks to Softmaker for promoting good information sharing via this blog!

-Tim

Derek Smith

2019-07-15 08:15

I write for a living. My Windows laptop threw a wobbly that I could not source quickly. I dug out my 2008 Dell Lattitude only to find its 70gig HDD and 2 gig RAM struggled to cope with Win10. I dropped in a 250gig SSD and loaded Linux Mint. It turned an 11-year-old computer into a fast and responsive one. I can't run MS Office, and so I loaded the free version of Textmaker.

I prefer Mint to to Win10 and Textmaker to Word. I'd suggest giving it a go.

The only problem is the weight of the laptop.

Chris Nother

2019-07-15 07:59

I am still using Windows 7 and intend to continue using it after January 2020 albeit with its internet connection disabled. Once I had decided not to 'upgrade' to Windows 10, I set up my Windows 7 computer to dual boot with Linux Lubuntu 18.04 and maintain my internet connectivity through the Linux operating system.

Organising the dual booting turned out to be much more straightforward than I anticipated although I did prepare thoroughly in case of problems and used Macrium Reflect to create an image backup file before proceeding. Everything went very smoothly and I have no regrets about the action I took. For the time being, both Windows 7 and Lubuntu 18.04 connect to the internet however I did temporarily disconnect Windows 7 to test the situation I would be in after next January - I found this entirely satisfactory.

Early on after installing Windows 7, I created a separate partition for my personal data files which can now be accessed easily from Lubuntu. This has meant that Lubuntu can run effectively on a quite small Ext4 partition as I do not need additional space for my data files.

The dual boot setup may have certain disadvantages although, as yet, I've not experienced any: for me, there are several advantages. I can continue to use peripherals for which there are no viable Linux drivers, I can use software which is not compatible with Linux and I have not had the hassle that changing to a different operating system entails. One small but significant bonus I have found is that I can use Macrium Reflect, which is installed in Windows 7, not only to create system backups of the Windows 7 partitions but also the Lubuntu partition: I've twice used it to restore Lubuntu after early experiments with the operating system went awry.

My experience shows that dual booting Windows 7 with another operating system, after disconnecting Windows 7 from the internet, is a viable strategy and useful alternative solution.

SL

2019-07-15 06:57

Thanks this is very clear and useful.
(I'm about to upgrade from XP to 7...... so I'm very far behind..... but still, your post has some very good advice.)

Rene Abad

2019-07-15 06:07

Better to Linux Mint - Softmaker will still be available, even FreeOffice

Mike

2019-07-15 06:06

Oh, the inhumanity! A new PC with windows 10 and nothing else takes about 9 seconds to boot up. A new PC with the Windows 10 upgrade (using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool), takes over 4 minutes to boot. Seriously, search the 'net and there are countless blogs, complaints and insults about Windows 10. And Microsoft blames 3rd party apps for the constant and annoying crashes and they really are of no help. AT ALL!
AND THE UPDATES! It seems like every 4 hours, there's an update...and it stops one in their tracks while they download and install. Maybe it's just me, but I reverted back to Windows 7 and to heck with the hackers and their stupid malware. I have an anti-virus and who knows how long THAT will protect my Windows 7. IMHO, it's just not worth the hassle...unless one wants to start with a new system and forget all the apps, programs, and documents one has accumulated over the years. I mean, they work just fine, really. But the migration and slow boot times are a real deal breaker.
That's my 2 cents.

ad id

2019-07-15 05:47

I don't see any issue staying with W7 past 2020 if it is still running fine for all one needs. I never updated W7 past SP1 installation) and never had a thing.
(same I was with XP, never update past SP3, run it until the mainboard died)

DAve Simpson

2019-07-15 05:30

I'm interested to learn what flavour of Linux you recommend switching to?

SoftMaker

2019-07-15 08:50

You might want to have a look at the following blog post were this question gets discussed thoroughly:

itsfoss.com/best-linux-beginners/

Bundoker

2019-07-15 04:43

At 90, probably not enough time on this planet to learn non-Gates OS. My action plan is: stop 'bull spit' cloud attempts to control my platforms. If I can switch to Windows 8.1 or 10 classic mode. Otherwise, Plan B: if the old crap still works, keep it running with beaucoups virus and malware protection software.

samG

2019-07-15 02:34

Also how does installing Windows 10 affect a dual operating system booting with Windows 7 and Linux Mint??
Would Grub be trashed and need to be restored?

SoftMaker

2019-07-15 08:22

Usually, it should be possible to "triple boot" Linux, Windows 7 and Windows 10.
However, you might want to ask this question in a linux-specific discussion forum.

Darby Allen

2019-07-15 02:32

I have two laptops, one with W10, the other with W7. As W10 has "stolen" my dvd drive, I will have to maintain the W7 as long as possible so that I can write dvds and cds. I just won't go on line with it!

samG

2019-07-15 02:28

After doing some research on this myself, Good suggestions up to Windows 10 Media creation tool. After that, unknown to me!

Dave Wingrove

2019-07-15 02:09

As a 75 year old pensioner in Australia, one does not have the resources to buy new computers. I run 4, xp, win 7, win 8 & win 10.

We live in a country town, no hospital, bank, doctor, ambulance and with out a good car to travel fortnightly to a service centre, diesel is $1.50 litre ($6,68 Gallon) plus any thing we buy local is not as cheap as the service centre.

I use xp for emails as I use a freeware mailwasher to delete scam emails.

I have found over the years you use specific computers for specific jobs, xp software wont run on win 10, and by doing this I have reduced my crashes from overload or too many programs.

I would like to be directed to a linux - windows type system which will run my windows type programs as well as my emails, ideally xp or win 7 style.

I keep and archive of emails dealing with local council matters as well as Local Mens Shed, doing newsletters for both organizations, with failing memory I have to resort to saved emails to verify facts.

Cheers Dave

andreas

2019-07-15 10:06

If you are looking for a Windows (binary) compatible free and open source OS then you might we interested in ReactOS. Take a look here: reactos.org/

rootazoid

2019-07-15 11:17

I've tried maybe 20 flavors of Linux and the one that works best for me is called PCLinuxOS. Unlike many others it behaves correctly with my mouse, keyboard, sound, display and printers. You'll also find a robust Support Forum full of helpful gurus.
www.pclinuxos.com/
My second favorite is called Zorin.

Paul Sur

2019-07-15 00:57

I switched to Windows 8.1 and have been very pleased with, although I will have to switch to Windows 10 in the near future, I will continue to use Windows 8.1 for as long as possible. I do copy and back-up all my files to be on the safe side.

Demac

2019-07-14 23:33

Microsoft seems to have agents everywhere.
Keep the OS you like best, don't move to an OS that is inferior in various ways. Soon, they'll have us only able to use voice commands - imagine that in an office environment.
I drive a car that's 18 years old - still reliable and has all the features I need. They're trying to introduce driverless vehicles, taking control away from you.
This is an age where manufacturers cheat on quality. We often have later model cars, trucks catching fire while being driven - air bags injuring drivers, cars having to be recalled for all sorts of safety issues. These poor attitudes extend to prams,computer components, software even food quality and plenty of other items. We have high rise buildings failing due to cheap cladding and cracks appearing.
Stick with Win7 - it's superior!!

Jan Maciol

2019-07-15 08:47

Totally agree - as long as you keep away from iffy websites, be aware at all times about clicking strange email links, and be security savvy Windows 7 is fine.

Derek Smith

2019-07-15 10:17

Hi, Demac. I agree with most of your post but will take issue on the airbag issue. I was a police officer for 30 years and airbags make driving, or rather having an accidents, a lot safer. They can cause problems, but I'd go with that rather than serious and critical injuries. I would much rather have gone to the next of kin and said, 'Your son Alan has got a nasty friction burn on his face' rather than, 'Your son Alan no longer has a face.'

Jane Jones

2019-07-14 21:43

What Linux distros do you suggest "with low hardware requirements" that actually work? My husband would love to use Linux on his older laptops, but has wasted many days installing different versions, only to find there are no drivers for necessary hardware, or other issues making it practically unusable for real-life use.

SoftMaker

2019-07-15 07:59

Thanks for your comment. You might want to have a look at the following blog post:

itsfoss.com/lightweight-linux-beginners/

It gives a good overview on the topic.

Chris Sleightholme

2019-07-15 08:45

I upgraded to Windows 10 on several computers. All started to work fine, but over time they got slower and slower ( even with constant clean-ups ), and the Microsoft updates took longer and longer.

I now use Linux Mint ( Cinnamon version ) on a laptop which is about 7 years old - having tried many distributions, this seems to me the best in terms of ease of use and support for older computers - performance for day-to-day work is excellent.

For info, I use SoftMaker office for Linux as my productivity tool, VueScan for scanning, InSync for Google Drive updates, Google Chrome for browsing, Skype for calls.

One thing I find poor in Linux is photo editing software, so I keep my Windows 10 laptop just for that.

macglenn

2019-07-15 17:09

Have you got Wine installed? It allows many Windows programs to work inside Linux. I use IRFANVIEW which can do a lot of digital tweaking and use Photo Filtre 7 if I want to work with layers. Both are free and work inside WINE on Linux.

Dekie G.

2019-07-15 16:37

I have installed Linux Mint on computers 10 years old and on recent laptops newer than the Linux Mint distribution. All hardware supported. While I often had to search for drivers with a Windows OS.
Those with a fast computer can run Windows 7 also in a virtual pc with VMware Player to keep using older programs or hardware.
Or run older Windows programs in Linux with Wine. Easier to install them for Wine with PlayOnLinux.

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