Windows 7 alternative?

eclectic

Moderator
I have used Windows 7 for years and am happy with it.
But it will very soon disappear. : -(

I have a PC with Windows 10 which I do NOT like.
I also own a Mac.

Question. What can I use instead of W7 which is

1. Easy to install.
2. Reasonably easy to operate.
3. Can run PICAXE.

I've only heard of Linux, Debian and so on, but I have no experience of them.
I am quite happy with buying a new/refurbished Desktop for installation.

e
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
I'm with techElder. If it were me I would simply stick with Windows 7 until it no longer did what I wanted it to do.

Windows 7 is reported to have around 40% market share so is unlikely to stop working or actually disappear when it becomes unsupported. It will continue to be used and be usable just as XP was when support for that ended. In fact XP is reported to still have 3% market share, which is more than Linux on the desktop has.

Mainstream OS options are Windows, Mac, Linux, notionally Android, plus Chrome OS.

Which is best probably depends greatly on what one does. Windows is almost certainly going to be the preferred OS for running PICAXE desktop software on for the foreseeable future.

I don't particularly "like" Windows 10 but can live with it. Most of the time I am running applications which means it's not really much different in use than any other Windows OS.
 

kfjl

Member
Try using Duck Duck Go ( or a search engine that spies on you if you prefer ) to search for Microsoft Linux. You'll see that Microsoft is silently migrating to Linux. I doubt that Microsoft will give you any warning or choice. Customer satisfaction is not a big consideration in a monopoly.

Ubuntu dual booting with Windows is probably the least painfull way of making the transition.

I stopped using Windows when I saw Vista.
 

kranenborg

Senior Member
You may also want to try the combination of Windows 10 and a Linux distribution integrated in it through WSL (particularly the upcoming WSL2 version). Then you might get the best of two worlds (W10 for the practical aspects, a preferred Linux for your favorite work) integrated into one environment. But I must also admit I strongly prefer W10 over W7 ... (but I use a Surface, which only runs W10).

/Jurjen
http://www.kranenborg.org/electronics
 

lbenson

Senior Member
I was opposed to Windows 8 because I couldn't find anything and there seemed no way to do something like my QuickStart menu, which makes over 30 programs available with 2 clicks. Same with Windows 10. But I finally got a refurbished Win10 laptop this past January, thinking that if I needed to I could install Win7.

Turned out that the Start Window which pops up when you click the windows icon in the lower left allows you to pin programs to it (and to resize them so lots will fit). Getting Control Panel on the start window was crucial to my being comfortable with finding Systems stuff. So Win10 works for me now--for the most part no difference from Win7.

Once I was confident with it, I followed this link to install it on an older laptop:

It went well (over the course of hours), and I was pleased to see that my QuickStart menu was still there on the taskbar, so no need to fiddle much with the Start Window.

But Win10 is a hog, no doubt. I wouldn't recommend it with less than 16GB.
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
But Win10 is a hog, no doubt. I wouldn't recommend it with less than 16GB.
My home Windows 10 system is a cheap and low-spec desktop system with just 4GB and that seems to do well enough most times though it does seem sluggish when doing updates. I suspect that's not so much lack of RAM than pacing the download and installing things which are frequently quite large. On the other hand I discovered it had installed the latest 'feature upgrade' in the background without me even noticing.

I don't use it as my main desktop so I may just be lucky but I have had few problems with it and it does seem to run WSL very well. I would agree though; almost always the more RAM the better.

I recall there was some tweaking required to get the Start Menu and other things how I wanted it, and it is still a pain finding things sometimes. But I suspect it's generally no worse than if I had chosen something else.
 

Pongo

Senior Member
Stick with Win7, I am. Disconnect that PC from the internet if you are really worried about security but in reality so long as you don't open email attachments or web surf on that machine, and it is behind a router, the chances of it getting hacked/impacted by issues resolved by windows updates are very, very, very, small.

If you want to try Linux I suggest dual booting Linux Mint. I have that set up on this laptop, but there is no equivalent of the picaxe programming editor for Linux (or many other windows programs that you know and love).
 

papaof2

Senior Member
Then keep using it! No, W7 won't "disappear." :D Remember Windows XP? There are still ways to run that today! ( Windows XP )
While I have Win 10 (formatting ebooks for Kindle) and Win 7 (monitoring the solar power system), I still have an XP laptop that I use for writing those books because I like the screen and keyboard on the ancient (12 years old) Dell D620. XP has been "not supported" for several years and while Chrome for XP hasn't been updated, Mozilla Firefox has been updated and works with all the sites that have discontinued the protocols XP supported.

Continue with Win 7 or dump it and install XP and an older version of the PICAXE editor. Your choice.
 

tmfkam

Senior Member
Why would anyone downgrade W7 to XP?
I seriously dislike almost everything about Windows 7. With Classic Shell and Classic Explorer I can just about live with it. Windows XP's UI suited my thought process far better. Windows 10 I can barely use without a long, long stream of expletives about the parentage of those who wrote it.

By example, changing a printer's properties seems counter intuitive. Instead of right clicking on the printer icon in the printers section of control panel, you have to right click on the printer icon in "devices". Madness.
 

inglewoodpete

Senior Member
Why would anyone downgrade W7 to XP?
XP does have it's uses, although they are quite limited these days.

I needed Internet Explorer 6 for an old workshop manual that I use regularly. IE6 is so old it has to run on XP. The solution was to run Oracle VirtualBox under Windows 10/64bit and then load and activate Windows XP under VirtualBox. However, IE6 is so antiquated that hardly any modern websites are compatible.
 

wapo54001

Senior Member
If you are with Windows 7, then you might well like Windows 10 OS plus a program called Classic Shell -- it gives Windows 10 a start menu that is highly customizable including to look and function just like Windows 7.

My professional IT friend claims 10 in it's matured version is better than 7 for low-powered machines. I avoided 10 until I got turned onto Classic Shell, now I like it very well. www.classicshell.net

Further, although the hyped "free upgrade" period is over, I continue to be successful in upgrading my 7 machines to 10 for free -- instructions are on the Web. For example, here -- Upgrade Windows 7 to 10 YMMV
 

JimPerry

Senior Member
I put off Windows 10 for as long as reasonable then converted with addition of Classic Shell about a year ago - no problems.
:love:
 

eclectic

Moderator
Wapo 54001 and JimP

Thanks for the info on Classic Shell.

I installed it on my W10 machine earlier
and it "feels" better already.

e
 

erco

Senior Member
Not what you want to hear, but Win10 is fine, other than the constant updates and some unsupported peripherals. I have twenty-plus computers (many laptops for teaching) and no problems. If they ever did crash, you never need recovery CDs/DVDs.

Little-known fact: You can still get a free upgrade from Windows 7 & 8, long after Microshaft's 3-year old bogus "deadline" of July 29, 2016. I have done this a dozen or more times this year. It's undocumented but legit, all my computers say "activated with a digital license".

Details are at https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/ Long story short, you use another computer to create a USB media upgrade drive and pop that into any Win7/8 computer. Caution, there is no "return to your previous OS" option though. HDDs are so cheap now, you might consider getting an HDD, cloning your Win7/8 installation on that, then upgrading it to Win10 to have it in your back pocket. Then set it aside for future use if you like and continue using your original HDD and OS.

No telling when the upgrade will stop working...
 

geoff07

Senior Member
It worked for me a few weeks ago. But then you still only have w10. And presumably MS have captured another user account for the future.

For real work and thousands of apps (all free and rock solid), go for Ubuntu. Pick a long-term support release (18.04 is the most recent). If you have old xp or other retail licenses then you can run Windows under virtualbox under Ubuntu for the rare things you need it for (such as PE6!).

See the screen shot of me typing this message with xp on top ..

This is actually Ubuntu 19.04 underneath which is a bit bleeding edge for newcomers to Ubuntu as non-LTS releases have only a short support lifetime.
 

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mikeyBoo

Senior Member
for-what-it’s-worth dept.
The best option is a Macbook Pro with 16gB running Parallels so you can run Unix Win7 Linux (whatever) all at the same time.
It’s only a flick of the wrist to move between them & all can share the clipboard & files so it feels like a single machine.
I really want to like Linux, but except for embedded work, it’s just not as productive as WIndows & Mac. Don’t much use it any more.
The Apple opsys is definitely the best of the three, but Windows has more killer apps, no getting around that.
Guess my MacWin7 is going to be my MacWin10.
However... I really wish they didn't take most of the ports off the newer Macs, that's kinda' stinky, so guess I'll just keep my older Mac.
 

tmfkam

Senior Member
I use VirtualBox, rather than Parallels. It can access the full array of USB devices (if any are fitted!) works just as well as Parallels in every way I can tell, but for individual use is massively less expensive. Of course you still need a licence for the "guest" OS. Virtual hard disks in Parallels can be converted to VirtualBox ones with no loss of data too. I got fed up paying Parallels the full price for incremental updates whenever macOS received a minor update which always "broke" Parallels (forcing the extra expense) yet rarely (if ever) breaks VirtualBox.
 

mikeyBoo

Senior Member
I use VirtualBox, rather than Parallels. It can access the full array of USB devices (if any are fitted!) works just as well as Parallels in every way I can tell, but for individual use is massively less expensive. Of course you still need a licence for the "guest" OS. Virtual hard disks in Parallels can be converted to VirtualBox ones with no loss of data too. I got fed up paying Parallels the full price for incremental updates whenever macOS received a minor update which always "broke" Parallels (forcing the extra expense) yet rarely (if ever) breaks VirtualBox.
My experience with Parallels has been just the opposite, been running since 2013 & never had the first problem (all operating system upgrades without so much as a glitch). However, I purchased Parallels as a yearly subscription, so it’s always up to date. I especially like the Toolbox dropdown that comes with it (lots of good time-savers).
I’m old & retired, so I value time more than money.

Different folks like different things, and that’s cool. But for me, it’s simpler & cheaper to have a Mac with Windows, Linux, Chrome, (etc.) with well-maintained VMs on it than multiple PCs that I have to individually maintain, update & backup.
When I backup my Mac (Time Machine) all the VMs get backed up too. I assume that's the same with VirtualBox.

I did have some reservations about having “all my eggs in one basket” but (kudos to Apple) when I installed a bigger hard drive, it was very easy. So no sweat about losing anything.
I was surprised that Windows runs faster as a Mac VM than on my Toshiba laptop.
I have used VirtualBox on my Win7 laptop & I like it too (can’t beat the price).
 

tmfkam

Senior Member
I started to use Parallels a little before you, I don't think there was a subscription option. VirtualBox is rather lower cost than any subscription. As you say, diff'rent strokes, for diff'rent folks.

If a program does not need physical port access, I'll try running it in a WINE environment if I can.

Although I have only a week ago, installed a copy of Windows 10 into a VirtualBox, which seems to be running very well. For Windows!
 

oracacle

Senior Member
comments like this often confuse me and makes me wonder if the dislike is because of change rather than anything else. Its a bit like when vista was released, everyone hated it and the change caught a lot of manufactures of guard, yet after a little use and everyone realising that they need a bit more RAM everything was fine (I still run it on backup machines).

I love the way I can hit the windows key and just start typing the programme I want and it finds it. I can do net searches from the same place, search every file on the machine, task bar that spans multiple displays, really easy network setup... And if I'm 100% honest I find that it runs better for most things than W7 did.

The other thing to bear in mind is keyboard shortcuts, they basically haven't changed for I don't now how many years, as a result, with the exception of W8 and that weird thing they did at the beginning of it, I don't really notice that things change that much - windows+e still opens explorer, start type the name of the file you looking for and it jumps to it. ctrl+c is still copy and long with ctrl+v being paste and ctrl+x being cut, windows+d to go to desktop, alt+tab to cycles through active windows, F4 to access the address bar... you get the idea.

but that just my 2 cents worth
 

Pongo

Senior Member
I'm not bothered by appearance or UI changes. From 1981 until the introduction of Win 10 I was in control of my DOS/Windows PC. I could choose what processes I allowed to run, IOW how to use the resources I had paid for. I could choose when to update the OS. I could run real time data gathering programs knowing that big brother wasn't going to crash them 'cause they decided their update (which probably dealt with issues that were of minimal importance to me) was more important than my work. Win 10 took all that away, Microsoft now owns my PC, or at least they would if I hadn't downgraded to W7.
 

lewisg

Senior Member
Another vote here for virtual machines.

I run OSX and VMware Fusion. A simple swipe of the touchpad takes to to my last XP laptop, another swipe to my last W7 laptop and another swipe to a W10 install. I also have various versions of Linux and other new and old installs that can be started at will. It's extremely freeing to have all the options on one portable powerhouse machine. The downside, MacBook Pros are expensive! The good news is VMware Fusion isn't...

I'll never go back to a "main" machine that does not have virtualization installed. You can use the native tools in VMware to migrate old physical machines to virtual disk images or I use Paragon's tools. I have helped out several people that had a whole garage of old machines, many from deceased relatives, that had who knows what on them. With virtualization I can move all those machines to one external HD and they can boot them up when ever they want. Now they have a place for their car instead of a "silicon death valley".
 

geoff07

Senior Member
Fully agree. Except that Fusion is a tad expensive. Virtualbox (does the same kind of thing) is free. It is really weird to have two screens on the same box, one running native Ubuntu and one running XP that cannot be distinguished from native, with cut and paste between both machines. My problem with Win10 is simply that it wants to be my friend and comes with vast clutter that I don't want and can't readily get rid of.

To help share stuff across systems I put all data storage in Dropbox so any machine (real or virtual) has access to exactly the same content.

Back on topic, has anyone any success at running PE6 under Linux or Wine? There are clues that it should but when I tried in the past it wouldn't fly. VMs are useful but native is even better.
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
Back on topic, has anyone any success at running PE6 under Linux or Wine? There are clues that it should but when I tried in the past it wouldn't fly.
I don't believe anyone has got it working natively or emulated on Linux because, if they had, we would almost certainly have heard about it.

I'm not even certain it could be done and it would probably require someone very familiar with getting Windows software running on Linux to achieve it if it is.
 

tmfkam

Senior Member
Back on topic, has anyone any success at running PE6 under Linux or Wine? There are clues that it should but when I tried in the past it wouldn't fly. VMs are useful but native is even better.
It looks as though B Powell got it working under WINE here: https://picaxeforum.co.uk/threads/picaxe-editor-6-0-6-2-now-available-for-download.25421/post-258892

With his help, I did too. I seem to recall it wasn't ever so reliable and I reverted to VirtualBox and (or) macAxePad.
 

mikeyBoo

Senior Member
A note from Santa for the Mac VM guys:
Some things that make using VMs more pleasant with a Mac...

The Mac keyboard ain’t quite perfect for Windows/Linux. The Logitech solution is great across operating systems & since the Mac allows keyboard customization, not gonna’ be too many situations where this won’t work.

Getting a monitor with a built-in USB hub makes disconnecting the Mac a breeze.

Logitech K750 Wireless Solar Keyboard for Mac — Solar Recharging, Mac-Friendly Keyboard, 2.4GHz Wireless -Silver ~$55 Prime
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005L38VRU/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor (built-in USB 4x hub) ~$180
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005JN9310/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
(There’s plenty of HDMI adapters available too if you wanna’ share it with a Chromebook.)

if you have one of the newer Macs (USB-C) this could be even better!
(maybe Santa will bring me a new Mac... probably not, he didn't bring the cheerleaders & new boat I asked for last year)

https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/accessories/apd/210-aqcq?mkwid=sfi8C4wAt&pcrid=194126772434
 
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lewisg

Senior Member
Most of the time my Mac Book is connected to a 27" Thunderbolt monitor. To it's right is a 27" iMac using a Windows version Logitech KB as it's primary keyboard. Both machines and sometimes another W10 Intel NUC are running Synergy to allow KB and mouse sharing across the 2-3 physical copmuters. Between the two Macs there are usually 5-6 OSes running. The only difficulty I have is keeping the ctrl and Windows keys straight when changing between OSes. The Windows key = the Mac command key so ctrl+a is the same as win+a. It can get a little confusing but using the wrong combination doesn't cause a problem, just a minor frustration.

Yes Virtual Box does "the same kind of thing" as Fusion. A Kia does the "same kind of thing" as a Tesla... You usually get what you pay for and the ease of handling peripherals, shared drives, disk images and configurations have made me stick to VMware over all the free alternatives I have tried over the years. I have used VirtualBox many times having installed it for running legacy applications after upgrades at various client sites. Works, but not as well.

As to the OT, eclectic has a Mac so suggesting he does what I do is certainly on topic. If he likes running PE on W7 then virtualize the W7 machine and run it on his Mac. Then he will have the security of running an up to date OS for everyday tasks and the familiarity of W7 and PE. I still maintain quite a few VB6 programs and I do that on a XP VM. No need to wear myself out migrating my entire development environment to some new OS when the old one works just fine.
 
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