Hello Windows 7 my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again

Yesterday I wrote about my frustration with Windows 10.  Twice in the last few weeks, I have brought my laptop to my hotel room, in order to do a few items for an hour; and then been prevented from doing so, by an unwanted and unstoppable “upgrade” which locked out the machine all evening.  I update very regularly, so these events are deeply intrusive.

I’ve taken the plunge and rolled my travelling laptop back to Windows 7.  It’s not easy, but it is doable.

What I call my “travelling laptop” is not my main machine, the loss of which would be a serious blow.  Instead it is a very plastic, very cheap Acer Aspire 5552, which I bought for £200 quite a few years ago.  It was bought because I could afford to lose it.  But it turned out to be a little gem.  Some years ago I replaced the hard drive with a solid-state disk of the same capacity, copying the disk like-for-like.  This speeded it up, and it runs perfectly.

Like many laptops, it has a hidden partition, on which the factory supplied software hides.  So I knew that I could revert to the factory version.  This, of course, was Windows 7.

I must say that I am deeply impressed with Acer.  When I installed Windows 10, it wrote all over the MBR – the main boot record, which controls startup, and which Acer altered so that you could call up the recovery partition.  That was very cavalier of Microsoft.  But Acer had thought of this.  You could still revert to factory setting, using the Acer eRecovery software, still installed on the ordinary disk.  This is what I did.

First I copied the files that I wanted to an external drive.  There weren’t that many.  It’s not my main machine, after all.

Then I fired up eRecovery, and told it to erase the C: drive and restore to factory settings.  It rebooted fairly soon, and I could see at once that the MBR had been restored.  The option to hit F2 to enter the BIOS – erased by Windows 10 – had reappeared.  This was a good sign!

Quite a bit of groaning later, and Windows 7 reappeared.  I went through the initial config, and there it was!

But of course I wasn’t done.  Firstly I had to get rid of the awful MacAfee software which manufacturers burden us with.  I had to download the tool to get rid of it too – many an unwary person has run the “uninstall” – which doesn’t actually get rid of parts of it – and ended up running two anti-virus packages at the same time.  This reduces the speed to a crawl.

Secondly, I ran Windows Update.  This only brought up a few minor updates, to my surprise; until a box popped up, informing me that the version of Windows 7 was obsolete.  Of course – I needed to upgrade to Service Pack 1 (SP1).  A link was provided!

The Microsoft link took me … to a Microsoft page that barely functioned.  I was very unimpressed.  You would only visit this page if you had an ancient version of Windows with an ancient version of Internet Explorer (in my case version 8).  But the page didn’t work with that.  Attempting to install IE11 brought me the curt message that this wasn’t supported on Win7 without SP1.

In the end I gave up, and installed Chrome.  This installed beautifully, and didn’t mess me around.  Well done Google.

Then I got hold of the SP1 installer, not without trouble – rubbish website, Microsoft, rubbish website.  I ran it, it worked, I reran Windows Update and … I have 187 updates to install.  Um.

It’s rather late now, and it was a long day, so I shall do those in batches tomorrow.

But I really am impressed with Acer.  They saved my bacon.  I’m fairly impressed with Google Chrome, who didn’t cause me trouble.

It’s funny to see Windows 7 again.  It looks old-fashioned now.  Such is the power of fashion and design, that something that once looked very modern now looks out of date!

All the same, I am glad to see it again!

6 thoughts on “Hello Windows 7 my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again

  1. You must have plenty of people who ask you, what about some flavour of Linux? I’ve been Microsoft free for around 7-8 years, and extremely happy with Ubuntu and Linux Mint alike. FWIW!

  2. I completely get this. I have been at this since Windows 95. Microsoft pushes out upgrades and new features without apparently any respect for the time and frustration of everyday users.

    I’ve attempted to go elsewhere. The problem with Linux and to a lesser degree with the Mac is interoperability with stuff that only runs on Windows. The various ways around this only sort of mostly work.

    I went directly for XP Pro to Win8 so the Win7 rollback was never an option.

    My solution — which doesn’t get rid of the problem but does definitely mitigate it — is to only use the Pro version. Until my youngest recently moved out we had a mix of W10 pro and home boxes. Including laptops. W10 Home forces the updates. Now. Ready or not. Including when you are on the road trying to get your VPN to work over a hotel WiFi so you can connect to your bank safely.

    The advanced update options in W10 Pro allow you to use a “business” update schedule which you can delay for up to a year for feature updates, and a month for security patches. The enterprise environment has no tolerance for the nonsense that Microsoft inflicts on everyday users.

    My desktop is set to 90 days. The laptop is set a bit longer. Which for me, is enough to hear the angry howl from the users of the home version. It is the alarm I need to intervene directly in the process and do major upgrades when I can babysit them.

  3. I am typing this on a 10 year old ACER with Windows 7 (yes you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade until 31 Dec 17 but would would want to?)

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