Where can I purchase Windows 7 (safely)?
April 21, 2014 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Dear HiveMind, I am finally waking up, smelling the coffee ... and seeing that I must say goodbye to XP. My machines are old (but not ancient) ThinkPads - one T60 and three X60s maxed out on RAM (systems built 2006-2008). I'm looking for an honorable seller of Win 7.

I would prefer to upgrade to Win 7 (32 bit, upgrade version) than to Win 8 with online upgrade to 8.1; I don't like Win 8 / 8.1, not sure it will run as well as Win 7 on these systems, and I resent Microsoft's practice of releasing things too quickly (arguably). With Vista, you could just stick with XP ... but now, you're pressed to upgrade for safety's sake. It was dumb of me to wait past the apparent on-the-shelf-life of Win 7. In this, I probably have quite a lot of company. I do not want new machines. I do not want a MacBook...yet.

So - I'm having a hard time finding new (and non-pirated) packages of what I'm looking for. Any leads?

I may install Ubuntu in dual boot mode, and keep XP for offline use. (I love Ubuntu, but I don't have the time or patience to deal with the learning curve of surprises and workarounds. It seems the only problem with Ubuntu is the hegemony of Microsoft, which becomes apparent when you're trying to collaborate on projects with others).

Thanks in advance!

posted by ferkit to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
SoftwareMedia.com is a legit Microsoft seller.
posted by effigy at 9:22 AM on April 21, 2014

This isn't helping, but if you install a Start menu utility like Start8 on Windows 8.1, it effectively works like Windows 7. I'd say that Windows 8 actually runs better on low-end hardware than Windows 7 does.

It looks like Amazon still sells the Windows 7 OEM version, but it doesn't come with support. This version is not functionally different from the retail version, though there may be some installation hoops to jump through.
posted by cnc at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2014

You can also get the OEM version from Newegg.com. $100 for the 32 bit Home Premium version. Like cnc says, there's no support, but I got the 64 bit version over a year ago and didn't have any problems. I've bought OEM versions of Windows since I think Windows95? I've never had any problems.
posted by sevenless at 9:38 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreed with @sevenless. I see the support thing as a non-issue, but I also fix my own stuff. You can always pay Microsoft per incident if you really need it. If you need support, you're probably better off taking it to a local computer shop or tech anyway.
posted by cnc at 10:01 AM on April 21, 2014

OEM is fine. Newegg is the place. A couple of notes: Technically, OEM only be sold with hardware purchased at the same time. With Newegg, purchasing a cheap USB key or a $2 cable will satisfy this. Also technically, a Microsoft OEM OS is tied to the original hardware it's installed on. If you're motherboard blows up, you may not be able to reinstall it on new hardware. It depends on how magnanimous Microsoft feels that day.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:02 AM on April 21, 2014

I was coming in to recommend newegg as well.
posted by RogueTech at 10:27 AM on April 21, 2014

i just bought the 32bit oem version on amazon for 79 or 89. got it in the mail today. the key is nice and legible (that was a complaint in some of the reviews). i haven't tried to install it yet, but i don't expect problems.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2014

I can't help with where to buy, but I can tell you that I'm typing this on an X60 running Win7 Pro 32 bits, and it's running just fine. You will probably enjoy your Thinkpads the same, or even more, after the switch.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:10 AM on April 21, 2014

I took a look, thinking that the T60 probably has similar specs to my laptop (Dell Latitude D810, late 2005ish). I checked and it seems I am right. While the processor is faster, the video card is more or less the same, and it looks like the internets reports the same issues I encountered when running Windows 7. The ATI Radeon Mobility X1400 has no Windows 7 driver. You can get a Vista driver to work, but I found it pretty buggy. Random BSODs were pretty common.

I really like my old laptop, it has a great 1920x1200 screen and good keyboard. At first, I tried dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu, but they both had their issues. Ubuntu was stable, but the Unity desktop was too resource-intensive for my older hardware, and I quickly tired of a UI that forces me to wait for animations that can't be disabled.

Currently, I'm running CrunchBang 11, which is based on Debian with OpenBox. I highly recommend trying it out. It's remarkably fast and stable, highly customizable, and everything just works. In fact, I've installed it as a dual boot with Windows 7 on a few machines and I have had way more hassle with the Windows installs, especially with drivers. It also has a post-install script that allows you to quickly configure and install useful packages to get you up and running. The USB installer has a live boot option, and dual-boot setup is a breeze. I would definitely recommend this distro either with Windows 7 or as an alternative.

Now that CrunchBang is my daily driver, I really don't want to go back to Windows. Just the thought of dealing with the Registry again is enough to keep me away.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:31 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm also a recent XP refugee. I got what I thought was a pretty good deal on a prebuilt PC that came with Win8. It was my only reservation about the purchase, and I was prepared to dislike it.

It took a few minutes to figure out how to tell it to mostly show the desktop instead of the stupid I'm-an-iPod-lookin' Start page. It took a little longer than that to figure out a couple of acceptable uses for the stupid I'm-an-iPod-lookin' Start page. And I must say the system does not seem to be struggling under the weight of a resource-hogging OS. All in all, I am prepared to begrudgingly admit that it's not as bad as I thought it'd be.

That said, you can't go too far wrong with Newegg.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:34 PM on April 21, 2014

I just want to thank you all for so much helpful info. This is an incredible ... community. I feel better already.

I'll go to Newegg; I'd gone there first, but got stymied when I saw no Upgrade version available. Just to be on the safe side, I'll speak to a rep. by phone to make sure I"m not clicking the wrong thing.

I also just received my Ubuntu 14.04 (LTS) disc - I'll play with it (and Wine for a couple of microsoft programs).

Once again - many thanks!
posted by ferkit at 6:21 PM on April 21, 2014

I've bought retail keys at r/softwareswap and have had no problems with them. Just make sure they're legal retail keys and not MSDN ones.
posted by PSB at 9:25 PM on April 21, 2014

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