General discussion

What are your plans when Windows 7 support ends?

How about a discussion on what to do ahead of the Windows 7 end-of-life that is coming next year? What are readers doing or suggesting to get ready or to make changes in their systems? I have 2 Win 7 Home computers that I would love to keep and have been looking for safe ways to do that - along with other alternatives if I need to think about replacing them such as Linux, Apple, or even not using an administrator account - just a regular account - so that a possible hacker or malware can't install anything without permission.

I've searched the forums but haven't found a discussion on that topic, so it would be great to get one started now - while there is still a lot of time to plan. Thank you.

--Submitted by Irene

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I Think You Mentioned Flatpaks Before

I looked at the subject briefly and a) was for LINUX and seemed to be a tool to "distribute" software to other computers. I don't know if that technique could be used instead of Windows Update, especially with the concept of a REGISTRY. Although the Group Policy editor used to work OK. We had COMUS on Univac mainframes that kept tabs on OS updates. If you "turned off" an update, it would turn off all the updates after that which required that update. Many don't understand that most updates require previous updates to be in place.

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I used LViewPro 1D through....

.....many versions of windows without a problem, even though I think it cdame along with win95 era. It is a stand alone program. In fact, I use it in Linux too, but under WINE. Everything doesn't have to be in Registry in windows, it can be a stand alone, but often have to make your own link to the program and THAT'S what gets put into windows registry, the link to it.

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But about 90% of the software out there 'requires' the registry. From settings or just to where the uninstall files are, I haven't seen much that lets you get away without updates to the registry in RECENT times. There are lots of software systems out there to distribute software under Windows. Group Policy is only one way. There is even software to do patch management in Windows. I think one we used was Patch Magic. The young guys in the office found out they had issues with that because the software kept database records by the SID in the computer. So they also loved Ghost but some didn't understand you had to run Ghostwalker if any of your software deals with SIDs.

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Kinda sad

The arguments from people that they are locked into Windows and simply cannot use any other platform are kind of sad. It isn't superiority, it's an unfortunate situation where many users have shown Microsoft that no matter what they do to them, they will accept it. If Windows update wrecks your computer or deletes files, it is okay because you are locked in. I've set up my systems so that I am in control, not some company that doesn't care because they have a captive audience. I have a couple Windows computers, but they are the exception, and nothing but the few programs I need are on them. But already, I am testing out a MacOS solution, so the last holdouts might be on Linux in the next few months. I do have one airgapped network running W-10, I might keep that because it doesn't suffer from updates.

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I Think What ISaid Before Was...

The reasons for sticking with MS vary from user to user and definitely when you bring a large enterprise into play with thousands !00's of thosands) of users. Remember when "FREE" software was called shareware? We were not allowed to have "free" software. All software had to have a support contract that, if anything were to go wrong, the publisher (i.e., Microsoft) would be onsite fixing their stuff within a certain amount of time. Then there was something called "economy of scale". When you have 100K users, you get things a lot cheaper than if you only had 50. We had that MS deal where we were allowed to use ANY MS product at any version without extra charge. (Hey, we were the government). But the sad (I have another word for it but can't mention it) thing was that they had to keep contracts on the cheap so they had contractors show up, program systems to run in MS only, and NO support and NO source code. So, not only 100% MS, but also stuck on some very old versions of Windows 2000 and NT because they couldn't escape compatibility issues. So there are going to be reasons why some individuals stick with MS (not to mention learning curve) and companies have their own reasons. I used to also work in UNIX on one system but we had to look up every single command. It was allowed because it was a specialty system in an embedded environment.

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portable apps

To avoid the dependence on registry, I use portable versions of free software whenever possible. is a great place to start. Other software sometimes has a portable option when choosing your download options. I have over 50GB of portable software on a usb hdd. Some of my favorites include LibreOffice, Vivaldi, MobaXterm, DOSBox, Firefox, Thunderbird, FileZilla, GIMP, Komodo-Edit. On my work computer, even though installing software is blocked, I can simply copy the folder of a portable app to "install" it on another computer.

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Portable Apps As well

I have the same setup. Portable files remind me of the "old days" when we would CD to a Directory (Folder, today) and run a batch file that would run everything we needed to run in the Directory where all supporting files were. It's going "backwards" perhaps but it obviates the Registry and deletion is a snap to do. Simplicity regained.

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Prerequisite fixes

I recall the days when we would use an IBM utility "IMASPZAP" to patch binary executables for executable code (on MVS mainframes.) The patches wer known as "Zaps."

Comment on one patch:

"Zap xyz123 is a prereq to this zap because this zap zaps that zap."

(and it was standard practice to check for the presence of the prereq in the verify section of a zap, so that it would fail if the prereq was not in place.)

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The Terminology Changes but the Concept is The same

If anyone bothers to go to the Windows Update Catalog Website today, every single fix (almost every) has a section described as required fixes. That means that a certain older update MUST be in place in order for anyone to apply the described fix. Imagine if non-technical users had to review each fix before applying it? Stuff just would NEVER get patched. (Agree? Disagree?). But, if you leave a choice to the user, you can see what would happen. "I want this security fix but not the monstrous fix to connect a xylophone to my PC...". If the security fix requires the xylophone fix to be in first or it blows up the process it's a pain to resolve.. It's the same thing that you are talking about (I used to work on mainframes from 1973 well into the current century...). It's something basic to computers, period. Now, how do you tell a USER that they really can't "pick and choose"? That, in my opinion is partly why we get into the modern mess. People just want their computer updated (or not) without having to check the requirements for each and every update manually. If MS (or any other OS vendor) wants to do this "the right way", every fix applied would need to automatically check the prerequisites and automatically include them. The whole process would take days, which brings up to the fall and spring creator updates on W10 which are not really "updates" in my book but, rather, complete reinstalls of the OS which may change settings and uninstall drivers and do all the things users now don't like. I personally find it easier (using W10 Pro) to Pause updates and wait for everyone else to complain about them and then use the W10 media tool to do an install, then check everything (settings, drivers, etc.). Most non-technical people won't/can't do that though. At twice a year, it's a pain in the....

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The biggest problem... not the genuinely needed updates. Microsoft has taken to pushing updates that should be optional on users. You no longer know whether the updates are actually needed because they claim that all of them are important or critical. An example is the way that they forced people to upgrade to Windows 10 from 7. That was certainly not a critical update, but they said it was. We know that they do lie and we know that they do make decisions about the users' computers that they have no business making. We just have no way to know which of the updates are doing the offensive things and which are needed. In other words, the problem is that Microsoft thinks they own us and our computers and they are known to be downright dishonest.

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To Answer Your Question

Who needs it? Mostly people who want an enterprise job in IT. Some places are Windows-centric and don't care about your LINUX experience. In my last job, they had ONE computer (kind of a server) running Red Hat. My first assignment was to replace it with Windows Server (I think it was 200Cool. Was not even allowed to run LINUX or Apple at home if I wanted to do my job.

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Macinto$h the miserably expensive filth!

I don't think MAC is an answer for Windows, the miserably expensive filth, It is even more expensive when the warranty period expires. The Updates are mandatory and resistance here is futile or you cannot run the OS in the internet once two or three updates are pending , the moment you connect to the internet....

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It's sad

that Mac has fallen down that path. Earlier OS X versions were not so demanding. As expensive as they are compared to PCs they really should be more friendly. I understand that Mac is very proprietary and all of their hardware and software are built "in-house". Does that justify 3x the price of a similar spec'ed PC? What else does a Mac offer that Windows or Linux can't do on a much less expensive machine? The answer is not security because any computer is only as secure as the owner makes it.

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Where do you get your information? I control updates, and when they happen.

Your tolling attempts are simply wrong.

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I dont get information, It was what had occured!

I did not update the OS on a I pad, after two such deficit of the same my screen went dark, took it to service center, without warranty of course! To hear the set has an outdated OS and hence the black screen, had to pay dearly for the extension of outdated warranty, nearly the price of a new set. I pad model no: A1403. Now that I had thrown the I pad into the bin a few years back. Vowed never to use these filthy miserable toys.

I gather it's this expense that some idiots stick to this disgusting Macinto$$$he$. If you ever tinker or play that filth, it will cost those parts enormous expenses, to merely toss it into a bin or place it on a pedestal as an ornament.

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So what you are telling me is that you have no idea about MacOS. Regardless, I see who I am writingt with so troll away.

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i OS or Mac OS ?

Well I had bad experience with the i OS and Mac OS is also from the same family Apple; there is not much difference in the cost as well as in the updates. I faced mandatory updates by Apple for this i OS as there were no options to halt up-gradation. How much different is the other (Mac OS) to fend me away likewise?

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Today's Mac OS

Is so tied to their cloud that if you don't keep up, things start to break.

Windows is changing too.

If you want to break the chains you need to move to other than Apple and Microsoft solutions. That would be Linux.

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re: Today's MacOS

How is it tied to the cloud when I don't use it at all? I control every single aspect of iCloud, including not using iCloud. It asks when you set up the computer, and you can eble but not use, or not even entering a password, keeping it null.

If you want to see what is happening on your computer without spreading untruths, get wireshark and you will see every packet coming and going from it.

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Just try to use a new Apple phone, tablet or laptop without creating an Apple account. You'll be amazed how badly it goes.

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You are Absolutely Correct.

For any needless aspect for instance to backing the applications on I OS require an account with Apple on Cloud. The service staff had implicitly asked me to store in the cloud with an account rather than store on a windows based computer.

To backup on a laptop it requires a special software called iTunes and backing up is rather a trial and error basis to a windows version. I cloud is free initially for a certain storage space, but if it exceeds it has to be paid for.

Then the question of privacy, do you really let sensitive documents to be stored to a place were others can snoop even accidentally. I would rather have my files stored on my computer and access whenever possible.

I concord with you on all aspect Proffitt without an account you will find how annoying is to conduct any task.

Furthermore, I OS is so enclosed with very little functions compared to Windows was wondering how elaborate will Mac OS be with 3 times the expense than windows to execute any operations? To me personally, is like throwing dollar bills into the fire and bragging it to others look I had burnt 1000$$. Whereas, windows relatively is superior in expense and functions except the frequent change of OS here.

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Not just Apple

Microsoft and Google do the same thing now with requiring an account to use their products. An Android phone or tablet is only a paperweight if you don't link it to a Google account. Windows 10 won't complete its installation if you don't have or make an account.

Of the three I trust Google most. Their products are friendly, fair-priced and their policies (including data collection) are transparent. But I expect that all have the ability to monitor their users' account activity and look at what we save in cloud storage. I also expect Microsoft and Apple to be more sinister with user accounts and collected data behind our backs.

Security of personal information? Forget it. Once it's on any server it's vulnerable. Don't fool yourself into believing that Apple's servers are more secure than Microsoft's or vice-versa. It only takes one human error to compromise a billion user accounts.

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Microsoft in the outset

Microsoft's pot had Luke-warm water in the outset and customers were pleased in the earlier OS versions like XP and Win 98 etc, partly it was distributed along with the hardware bought partly due to its simplicity and privacy. Perhaps the customers began to exploit or the revenue generated began to abate, future version began to impact customers to a point were they were being boiled in their pots.

Fortunately, Micro$oft had evolved to a stage of boiling its customers, in the effort to evade the same, the customers jump to Apple's Pot were the ambiance is far worse, Their pot has evolved to steaming, scalding them occasionally their customers. I find that may not be an appropriate alternative.

Inevitably, the customer has another option to move to Linux. Not sure how their pot is, whether ice cold or Lukewarm as many claim. I deem, it is better than Mac but the learning curve may be a hassle in this case. Was informed this OS is more keyboard oriented (Ice cold) than GUI interface. Are there frequent change of OS version here as well? Heard the GUI has evolved almost par to Windows lately (Luke-warm) that is very inciting.

In due course, shall see which pot evolves to imbibe several customers...

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My Precition

Home Users: Many who have not had computer experience before (yes, I KNOW people who dion't have a computer. Some go to the library for Web access), can easily go to IOS (iPad?) where they can do email, twitter, web and Facebook. Others? If they buy a computer, it will most likely come with Windows so that is what they will sit with. All depends on who not only sets up their computer, but also who is going to teach them how to use it. UNLESS they are locked into apps related to their jobs such as .NET applications that someone wrote.

Business users: I still believe that most businesses (big, not SMB) are going to continue with Windows as they want someone onsite immediately after a major problem, ransomware, etc. Plus, SERVERS define the enterprise; not desktops and many have .NET and earlier apps that they can't afford to have someone rewrite. So, with 100,000 employees and NOT wanting to support multiple OSes, I think you'll still find Windows.

All this is just in my opinion.

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Your prediction has partially come true already, I suspect

There are home users that will need a computer and an operating system that support real applications - I am someone like that (in addition to being in the IT industry, which - as you say - seriously suggests a "real computer." Another example seems to be 4Denise, who has told us here that she (I jump to the conclusion that the "Denise" in the handle is her first name, hence the "she") is not an IT specialist but a writer that needs some real computer applications that - so far - only work on Windows, but she needs them on a *working* Windows, which seems to be harder and harder to get these days.

There are loads of home users who need email and browsing, a calendar and very little else. For most of those a computer was the natural choice in the past (either Windows by default or MacOS by choice.) They can now as easily find their needs filled with a tablet (either iOS or Android) - with or without a keyboard - have you heard of the novel "The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe" by Romain Puértolas? He says he was bored being a border guard between France and Spain - thanks to the EU and Schengen he was seriously underchallenged, and he started to write his novel - on his smartphone! There you go!

A good deal of the reclining PC sales figures can probably be blamed on users like that. This is also the main reason why Microsoft stopped betting its business on Windows as a cash cow and is now trying to emulate the business model of facebook and Google ...

Business users - a rather varied picture, here. Take IBM, for example - when they gave their people a choice of platforms they became the largest corporate user of Macs - many non-technical (mostly managerial) staff opted for the prestigious neat looking Apple laptops. Those who needed their computers to work stuck with the Lenovo Thinkpads they had grown accustomed to - most chosing WIndows (Win 8.x and 10 were outlawed for the longest time - I suspect that Win 10 is okay by now, but updates would be driven by IBM, not Microsoft.) and a minority of "real geeks" would opt for a variety of Linux distributions.

Another story (or two, rather) - in Germany the City of Munich (München) and the province/state of Lower Saxony (" BundeslandNiedersachsen") had engaged in projects to "go open source and eliminate the dependency on foreign suppliers that won't allow insights in their products and/or behaviour." Sadly, both have since - after many years of rather successful operations - caved in to massive lobbying and are currently engaging in very expensive projects to return to - yes, it is hard to believe - Microsoft products. They will have to answer to Government auditors, eventually. The arguments for this move included the small number of special applications that could not be migrated from Windows and an alleged learning curve amongst staff members that supposedly could work with WIndows but semingly couldn't wrap their minds around the Linux desktops. Considering that a modern application landscape is built around browsers and application servers (Java, for instance) it seems hard to imagine that people wopuldn't be able to browse to their daily applications and forget about the environment - or was it the absence of Solitaire for the coffee breaks? Will we ever know?

So, the battle still rages, but the fact remains that Sun Microsystems, by making Java available, and many others by embracing it have put an alternative out there that has reduced the Windows footprint significantly. And now that Microsoft is betting more and more of its business on "stuff" they run on their own servers (Azure Cloud "stuff") they also seem to reduce their dependence on Windows servers.

Yeah, well ...

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You are correct

I am definitely female! However, I don't think that the battle should even exist. The more choices the better, as far as I am concerned. I am just disgusted with Microsoft. It is obvious that they have the ability to do much better. They are just being lazy and stupid about it. I resisted Microsoft Office for years (because I really do like WordPerfect, which was the original), but when I had to get it for school I developed a liking for it. It is good quality software, at least the 2010 version is. Why can't they do as well for Windows? Resting on the assumption that people will just stick with Windows because they are used to it or because they have software that they must have Windows for is no way to maintain a market share. Alternatives do exist, and they will continue to appear. More and more developers are offering Linux versions of their software and more and more open source developers are emulating the best of the software out there. That will eventually remove the one big hurdle for home users. In the meantime, Linux distros will get more and more user-friendly. Microsoft is being very stupid.

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The Battle (?)

I agree, there shouldn't have been a battle. But this was brought about - in my opinion - more by the "obsession" of certain Microsoft bosses with the idea of 100% market penetration. (Think of the famous "war dance" video - I Quote: "I!" - "LOVE!" - "THIS!" - "COMPANY!")

And Microsoft Office? From the early days I recall how malware-prone that was. And how little help MS was with fending off these threats.

I also still recall - from rather close by - the strugle by IBM (not exactly a bit player) with rallying support for their OS/2 from independent developers. ´The arrival of Win95 with support for 32 bit applications - and lots of such applications - that were not compatible with OS/2's Windows support, that was really the death knell for IBM's aspirations for the desktop. It is ironic, though, that huge numbers of machines in the corporate world would continue to run as virtual zombies for quite a long time before server based applications would take over. No wonder IBM went for the Java (JEE) based application servers as their plan going forward ...

Interesting as well, I suppose, that Microsoft's move towards activation of the Office suite also seems to have brought about a major push forward in the quality and compatibility of the open source office suites (Open and Libre.)

As for the stupidity of Microsoft, I would agree with that sentiment if I had the feeling they still saw their success dependent on Windows sales to end users. They still don't want to give up the corporate user base - not least because it provides them with a captive audience for Office and for lots of server based products, including their Azure cloud offerings. Hence also their continued support for the .NET development space.

Maybe they aren't so stupid, just endlessly cynical?

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Looking at the Past

One of the old dividing factors between Windows and Macs was that, at least in the past, MACS had a lot of graphical design software written for them. So, Apple was the playing field of designers and, by association, artists. Windows ran on IBM machines which were related to the old mainframes that I started with when I was in college. The "B" in IBM was for "business". I never understood why IBM PCs took off except that they were made by IBM at the time (pre-Lenovo) because as an IT person, I preferred a different architecture. Even Atari, with daisy-chained peripherals, seemed better to me rather than having a "card" for each device. SCSI was in a different realm.
I think the key dividing factor was that business was driving computer development as the only "home users" were techie. Internet was only for the government/industrial/defense types at the time, until the WWW was invented in the 90's. But there lies a problem. Many home users have MINIMAL technical training in the care and maintenance of a computer. My job on mainframes was the equivalent of analyzing every hang-up, crash (the "blue screen" equivalent) so I worked and programmed at the bit level. That was when there were two categories of computers: word-oriented and byte-oriented. Mostly I worked on word machines (36-bit) which are more for engineering and science than business "character" systems.
So a lot of the answer for the OP is going to be the answer to the question: "What are you going to use the computer for?" As opposed to "this OS works just as well as THAT OS". If you have to support .NET applications at 3 AM, or a Windows SERVER crashes, your choice might be lot different than for the home users that need to do their homework, check email, browse the web, etc. As I said, in corporate users, if Apple didn't support the onsite-coded applications, you couldn't use it in the past. Back when they used processors by Motorola that were completely incompatible with Intel. JAVA is moving out more and more so the hardware and the OS are not that significant anymore.

It's not a "battle" in the enterprise so much. It's a case of what kind of support do you get and how much of a volume discount as well as corporate culture.

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Windows and mainframes? Huh?

No, I don't think it was the similarity between S/360 and x86 architectures that got the corporate world interested in the IBM PC - I think it was the fact that Big Blue had the reputation of not letting corporate customers down nilly willy. Or was it the fact that the PC's monochrome display showed an image rather similar to what users knew from the 3270 "green screen" terminals. "Monochrome" back then was equated to "serious" and "business," whereas the colour monitors with their abysmally low resolution tended to remind one of the "play" computers that connected to TV screens at a similarly low resolution and colour range. When I look at full HD (or better) screens today - even on my phone - I find it hard to believe that those displays were once real.

The first computer in my life was a PDP-6 (36bit) soon followed by a IBM S/360-40 (8 bit.)

The reason why the Macs had graphics software that the IBM PC of the day could only dream of had to do with the fact that at Apple they were not afraid of decent colour monitors and - much more importantly - that their processors allowed a linear address space, while the 8086 from Intel had this strange segmented memory model that complicated the processing of any data structure bigger than 64 kilobytes. That was only remedied when the 386 came out, which allowed a linear memory model, at least in protected mode, which newer versions of Windows could eploit.

The fact that it also introduced virtual memory access would eventually (much later) also turn out to be helpful - virtual machines and ultimately all cloud computing would have been unthinkable without that. (But credit where it is due - IBM's mainframe technology routinely supported virtual machines as far back as the early 1970s in their S/370 series, which followed the S/360s.)

It is interesting that the advantage of the Macs in all things graphics was indeed limited to the time where IBM and compatible PCs did not support a linear memory model. This also accelerated the move towards Windows, since there was no viable successor to DOS that went this route.

But more importantly for our OP and the general question of "where to when the last user friendly Windows bites the dust?" is not really related to this bit of history. The Macs of today and the PCs of today are no longer even remotely like the machines of these early years. Macs have Intel processors much the same as PCs. There are no significant differences anymore between what can be programmed on the one or the other. One significant difference remains: Macintosh computers are only available from Apple and MacOS only runs on them. IBM PCs are still available from many vendors (not from IBM anymore, though) and they can run a variety of operating systems and operating system flavours. But most application software is tied to one operating system - and in many cases now even only to a range of versions - I lost a lot of my work when I moved to Windows 7 and I am losing more by moving to Windows 10. I actually don't know to what extent problems like that exist in the Linux world. Sun Microsystems were addressing this when they made Java available. It actually helped, even though most of the portability of Java is used on servers these days.

There is still a "battle" in the enterprise, at least here and there. There are 100% Microsoft shops (of which Microsoft itself is no longer one,) there are those where Windows just dominates the desktop and not the servers and then there are some where it plays a minor role. And many vendors for the corporate market need to support all three. And Microsoft will go after the likes of Lower Saxony or Munich to try and convert them back (at great expense to the tax payer, I must add ...)

At home or in the small business it all still comes to the simple realization that for some usage profiles migration is no big deal, but for many of us there are still serious issues with the availability of certain important application functionality across the board. Which limits our mobility. Which is why I am looking at multi-platform scenarios including virtualized legacy systems and a strategy concerning what needs to go online and what doesn't. It also incorporates a requirement for firewalls and malware protection on routers, where it would be independent of our choices of operating platforms for our applications.

One item I am looking for (I have a suspicion our current network technology could offer this but I am not sure) is a layered network approach - where some systems have internet access and others can just share files within the local network but can't go online. This functionality, of course needs to be implemented in the smart routers I mentioned, since we can't expect a Windows XP or Windows 7 to suddenly "sprout" such an option years after they stopped being supported. (I suspect that the networking support of some of the VMware implementations already covers this, at least in part.)

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