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Computer Care: Tips to keep Windows 7 on your PC

POSTED: May 18, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Windows 8 is great, if you are used to it or if you have a touch-screen laptop or tablet. But more and more of my clients are complaining that they just got a new PC with Win 8 installed — and they hate it. What they really want is that new computer loaded with their old operating system, Windows 7.

What to do? Well, there are options.

Windows 7 machines are still available, contrary to what commissioned sales people may advise you. They are just hard to find and are mostly online.

Alternatively, you could downgrade your Win 8 system to Win 7, but it’s not as straightforward as it used to be to accomplish this task.

There is also the option of using a Win 7 install CD to set up a dual-boot configuration on your Win 8 system.

The simplest solution short of getting used to the new OS is to adjust the settings on your Win 8 system to make it look and behave more like Win 7. Click on the tile labeled “Desktop” on the primary screen of the Windows 8 system to accomplish this. You’ll then have a more recognizable graphical user interface.

There are also Start button apps that can be downloaded (many for free) online.

But let’s start at the beginning. Microsoft says it will support Windows 7 until January 2015, that retailers may sell PCs with the older system until October 2014 and sell boxed versions of the operating system until October 2013.

The problem is finding them. You may have better luck on sites such as overstock.com that sells last year’s technology, some new, some refurbished. Online retailers may also be your best bet for finding copies of Windows 7 when the brick-and-mortar stores advise you that it’s no longer available.

Websites that sell to businesses may have more older systems, even going back to XP computers. Dell.com for example has a section for home users and one for business use. You are more likely to find a Win 7 PC on the business side of their site.

The problem with downgrading from Windows 8 to 7 is a hardware issue. Windows 8 computers are designed differently from their predecessors, especially the hard drives. They are configured and partitioned to accommodate the newer, higher tech version of the operating system.

Without getting too technical, the new systems are designed with a new Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. They have secure boot along with fast startup features. The drives are partitioned differently from how they used to be to thwart off malware in the boot sector.

Although all you may see under your Computer icon is your C drive, the other partitions are there, just hidden. This is what makes downgrading to Win 7 difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.

If you have 64-bit version of Windows 7 Pro, it does support the new partitioning. Just choose the advanced setup and make sure you’ve backed up all your documents. The new installation will format your hard drive, wiping the contents of it. You will lose everything .

You may encounter some difficulty activating the new installation and have to phone Microsoft instead of the usual online activation. The number will be provided, should you need it. What you are doing is legal and free, if you already have the CD.

Better option yet, if you have a full copy of the Win 7 install CD (any version), is to set up a dual-boot so both operating systems are there. Win 8 remains intact, but you may choose to ignore it and go right into Windows 7.

The worse part of this is that it will void your warranty if you are making these adjustments on a new computer. It’s your call, but it may be worth it.

Google, “How to dual-boot a Windows 8 system with Windows 7.” It’s not too difficult. Just be sure to find a site with instructions you can understand clearly and follow them exactly.

Whichever option you choose, I think you’ll agree with my clients. Windows 7 is the way to go.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly on the Business page and on gainesvilletimes.com.


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