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!