Whither Windows?
December 8, 2017 2:36 PM   Subscribe

What am I missing by sticking with Windows 7?

Ordinary user, no autocad, games, animation. Just MS Office files, not huge. Recent trouble with 1 & 2 mb Word files.

I would love to grow old with Windows 7. But I can face the future too.

What am I missing out on, right now, purely by virtue of staying with Windows 7?
posted by LonnieK to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
As far as I can tell, mostly superficial changes. Nothing particularly important.

1) Virtual desktops. Windows 10 allows you to spread applications across multiple screens allowing you to keep them from overlapping.

2) Windows 10 has Cortana built in. It's their answer to Siri.

3) You can now snap individual windows to corners, rather than just to each other.

4) Better storage space management, built into the OS. Including hot partitioning for some devices. This was a long time coming. Previous versions required third party apps for that functionality.

5) More reliable wifi. My desktop computer used to drop our wifi every once in a while. it never has with Win10.

6) The settings screen is a lot more robust and has more functions to work with.
posted by zarq at 3:11 PM on December 8, 2017

I have stuck with Windows 7 but there are two things I worry about missing:

1) Better bluetooth. I have a Bose wireless speaker that I use a lot and love, but it's been a huuuuge pain in the ass to make it work properly, and I can't unplug its dongle from my USB port because everytime it's disconnected, re-connecting it is a major pain. The bluetooth is just very finicky. I've tried to download different software and drivers, etc, but it just doesn't work great. I've heard bluetooth is better in Windows 10.

2) Print to PDF. I don't have a printer, but I often want to save print items as PDFs instead, especially if it's a document I can't download and save but I can print. I've tried various apps to do this, but they all pretty much suck. I've heard this feature is built into Windows 10, the way print to OneNote or print to XPS is an option in Windows 7.

Neither of these have been worth me leaving Windows 7 though, which I have been happy with and has worked great.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:58 PM on December 8, 2017

The most important differences are all under the hood. Win 10 reboots much faster, and almost never blue screens. It is also much less vulnerable to malware. Overall, win 10 fades into the background, and allows you to concentrate on getting your stuff done.
posted by monotreme at 4:36 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

You seem to be implying that 'the future' means a newer version of Windows, but there are other roads open to you, so I'm going to comment from the perspective of someone who took one of those other roads.

You're missing out on the feeling of freedom that I get from using Linux. Freedom from being spied on by Microsoft, and freedom from using a OS that costs money, and the freedom that comes with using an OS that gives you more control and is a lot less vulnerable to viruses and malware... to name but a few. You're also missing out on having multiple workspaces. It's awesome.

I jumped from Win7 to Linux Mint, and never looked back. It's more like Win7 than Win10 is.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:01 PM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Eventually, updates. But for now, honestly 7->10 will get you a bunch of incremental improvements but nothing terribly earth-shattering.

The big deal for me would be the virtual desktops, but it's not like you can't get that with third party programs. Still, as someone who's used to it from GNOME + KDE, it is nice to finally have Windows catch up. ;)

So basically I'd say this: if you're happy with 7 and don't see any "killer" feature for 10, stick with 7 until you have to upgrade for some external reason (updates, new HW doesn't handle 7, etc.) Or use that opportunity to switch to Linux. (Whether that's the best course for you will depend on your needs...)
posted by -1 at 5:14 PM on December 8, 2017

Windows 7 is going to lose security updates in about two years.
* The notification center is much better and more useful in Windows 10 than system tray notifications in Windows 7.
* Live tiles on the Start menu are useful
* The Windows Tab multitasking interface is much better
* Upcoming appointments on the clock/calendar is nice
* Mirroring your phone's SMS messages to your Windows 10 machine is nice, especially for dual factor apps where your phone isn't nearby.
* The Windows 10 Task Manager is significantly improved.
* Windows apps for things you previously need to go to a website to see, like mail, calendar, weather, to do, Twitter, news, etc.
posted by cnc at 6:09 PM on December 8, 2017

Seconding what Too-Ticky has to say here. If you're happy with Windows 7 right now, there seems little reason to switch to something newer. When support ends, you'll have to move on though, if you value security updates and all that.

I use Debian/GNU Linux with XFCE as my desktop. We've had virtual desktops for years and years. I don't use them, but I can see why people might. If I want a voice assistant, there's Mycroft. Window snapping? Oh yes, that's built into XFCE. Print to PDF? Oh, that's been built-in for years and years too. I got used to it so much that it was a surprise when I couldn't find the option in Windows. And if any pesky MS Office files won't play ball in LibreOffice, I fire up my Win7 virtual machine, deal with them in MS Office as quickly as possible, and then scurry along back to XFCE. So, as far as I can tell, for my purposes, Windows 10 wouldn't really offer anything I'm missing. If you don't care about features like these, is there any need to switch?

If I switched to Windows 7, I would definitely miss my system and application updates happening all at once, so that everything gets updated in one action. If a reboot is required, I get to choose when it happens and I don't get unceremoniously dumped from a Skype job interview because Windows didn't want to defer the update for another 4 hours (yes, that happened to me using Windows 7). I would also miss being able to search a vast library of vetted and reviewed software that won't contain spyware, and download and install at will.

Your mileage, as always, may vary.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I get to choose when it happens and I don't get unceremoniously dumped from a Skype job interview because Windows didn't want to defer the update for another 4 hours

Good point. This doesn't happen with Windows 10.
posted by cnc at 6:18 PM on December 8, 2017

I also couldn't really tell if this was Windows 7 to Windows 10 or switching to an Apple machine or ditching all that and going Linux. I had an hour long conversation with my landlord today about him being frakking annoyed at Windows 10 and me just shrugging my shoulders and throwing up hands because I've been on Linux since forever. Unless there's some app that is only Microsoft that you must have (and that won't work in a VM or something). I'm sure I'd end up rage tossing a Windows machine across the room. (and didn't upgrade my grandmother's Windows machine because all the Microsoft 10 BS-ish-ness WTF pay more for Solitaire). Seriously consider Linux or even a Chromebook if you're not just too Microsoft bound.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:12 PM on December 8, 2017

I have Win 10 on some work machines and have kept Win 7 on my desktop at home.

Windows 10 isn't the disaster that Windows 8 was but it has enough of the Windows 8 UI changes that I really, really don't like it. The window snapping behavior is annoying, and the Start Menu is better than 8 but still clumsier than 7 -- I find the live tiles obnoxious.

Print to PDF under Win 7 can be easily had. CutePDF Writer or DIY with Ghostscript.

Good point. This doesn't happen with Windows 10.

This doesn't happen on 7 either, with the right settings.

Basically, if you still want Windows to feel like XP, then stick with 7. If you want the jazzed up mobile-inspired bells and whistles, or want the more modernized OS internals (which do have real security benefits), then upgrade.

I'd expect there will be a new version by the time Win 7 support ends, but maybe not.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:11 AM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I hate upgrading, but my work computer is now windows 10. I find it way nicer than I thought I would, and the built-in Linux subsystem is very cool for running command line Linux, I have Ubuntu running. But Linux takes time to understand and set up, and you probably don't need it. My home computer runs Windows 7, and it's still fine. (It also prints to PDF, I have no idea how I made this happen, but it does). I wouldn't update if what you have works.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:28 AM on December 9, 2017

Windows 10 + Classic Shell start menu app and it's almost like you never left Win 7, but with all the under-the-hood improvements of Win10.
posted by briank at 8:22 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Good point. This doesn't happen with Windows 10.

Hang on, what? That's one of my huge peeves with Windows 10. I step away from my desk to get coffee and come back and whoops! Windows 10 decided to do a forced reboot with a 2 minute warning. And no way to postpone it.

Windows 10 has been nothing but a string of annoyances. Blue screens due to "watchdog" violations. Lid close action keeps reverting back to sleep no matter how many places I change the settings. Driver incompatibility with my perfectly good archival photograph printer that makes it useless. Refuses to reconnect with my VPN after sleeping/hibernating. And on and on. And then they have the cheek to ask me how likely I'd be to recommend Windows 10 to a friend. How about -10,000 on a scale of 1 to 10??
posted by Preserver at 8:23 AM on December 9, 2017

The comments about updates restarting your computers are odd to me. You can turn those off. I haven't seen those messages on my Windows 7 PC in years. I have set my updates so I have to manually check. Less secure, I suppose, but less annoying too.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:25 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

The comments about updates restarting your computers are odd to me. You can turn those off.

Not on Windows 10.
posted by Preserver at 6:28 AM on December 10, 2017

In Windows 10 Pro (maybe Home as well?) you can in fact alter its updating-to-you behaviors to an extent in the Update settings, regarding when to restart and 'active hours' - but I have found that sometimes it screws up and just does it while I'm in the middle of something, which is ridiculous. This is even (or perhaps because of) in the latest iterations of Windows 10, versions 1703 & 1709. (If you have nothing better to do, you can check your Windows build version easily by typing 'winver' in the search box and hitting enter. ;)

In Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, if an Administrator controls your update settings and not you, you may not be able to alter these. But if they do not, or they allow you control, you can set the active hours, restart times, and! you can purposely defer certain updates from Microsoft for X # of days.
posted by bitterkitten at 7:28 AM on December 10, 2017

W-10 has been working well for me. Until recently.

Microsoft no longer supports the video card built into my dinosaur HP computer's motherboard, so I have to go get a plug-in video card to display my 1920X1080 aspect. My propeller head son tells me that if I had a smaller monitor I wouldn't notice.
posted by mule98J at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2017

If nothing else you should be able to completely disable the Windows Update service even under Win 10. Just remember to re-enable it and check for updates on a reasonably frequent basis.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:29 PM on December 10, 2017

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