By Reid Goldsborough
Do you like Windows 7? Many people do. In organizational settings, some custom programs are customized for Windows 7. A small percentage of printers and other peripherals work with it but not its successors. With some people, it's just inertia. If it ain't broke, why fix it?
But Microsoft doesn't want you to use it anymore. It wants you to upgrade your Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems to Windows 10, and it's pushing hard. Despite its lush profit margins and storehouse of cash, Microsoft wants to save money by not having to support earlier operating systems.
First, it broke precedent by announcing that for consumers wanting to upgrade their existing Windows 8 or Windows 7 machine, the cost during the first year after its release would be nothing. This is a good thing.
Not so good is Microsoft bugging you with periodic nag pop-ups that this upgrade is available. Even worse is Microsoft's recent announcement that it will automatically upgrade Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems through Windows Update over the next months unless you tell it otherwise.
Telling it otherwise isn't completely straightforward.
To prevent Microsoft from automatically installing Windows 10 on your Windows 7 computer, you should do these things:
1. Open Windows Update through your Start Menu.
2. Click Change Settings
3. Under Important Updates, choose "Check for updates but let me choose whether or not to download and install them"
4. Under Recommended Updates, check "Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates"
5. Click OK
Step number four above is the one that's not intuitive since Windows 10 will become a recommended update. Microsoft is being so aggressive that even after you do this, it will indicate you have a problem with Windows Update through its Taskbar icon "Solve PC issues." Just ignore this.
Microsoft previously stopped "mainstream support" of Windows 7, in January 2015. This means that Windows 7 doesn't benefit from new features, and you can't call Microsoft for free help. But Windows 7 still receives all-important security fixes. Microsoft plans to maintain Windows 7 "extended support" until January 2020, when security fixes will no longer be provided.
With Windows 8, Microsoft made one of the biggest business miscalculations in history. By putting a tablet and smartphone interface on its PC operating system, it sought to boost sales of its own tablets and smartphones, which lagged far behind competitors. But the result was sabotaging sales of PCs made by others while doing nothing for the sale of Microsoft's tablets and smartphones.
Before Windows 7, the darling of Windows aficionados was Windows XP. But Microsoft stopped supporting XP in April 2014, which meant it stopped releasing bug fixes, including those related to security. For a large number of people, particularly those in the corporate world, this eliminated XP as a viable product.
In a marketing contrivance, Microsoft named the successor to Windows 8 not Windows 9 but Windows 10. Windows 7 follows Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Me, Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows 3.0 and 3.1, Windows 2.0 and 2.1, and Windows 1.0.
Windows 10 was released in July 2015, Windows 8 in October 2012, and Windows 7 in October 2009. Microsoft seems to alternately release a brilliant major version of Windows followed by a brain-dead version.
Windows 95 was good, Windows ME bad, Windows XP good, Windows Vista bad, Windows 7 good, Windows 8 bad, and Windows 10 good.
Microsoft learned from its mistakes with Windows 8. It brought back the much missed Start menu, where you can start programs from the bottom left of your screen. Additionally, Microsoft's "modern apps" no longer try to take over, letting you use them in a desktop window if you like, which makes sense because the product is named and has always been named Windows.
With Windows 10, Microsoft isn't abandoning its wishes that everyone use Windows on smartphones and tablets as well as desktop and laptop PCs.
Window 10 switches interfaces depending on the type of device it's used on. It looks one way on devices in which users primarily use a keyboard and mouse or other pointing device, such as a desktop or laptop PC. And it looks another way on devices in which users primarily use a touchscreen, such as a tablet or smartphone. With convertible laptops/tablets, it asks users what they want.
Microsoft should follow the spirit of this by making it easy, not difficult, for users to use what they want, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10.
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at