I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. If I’m looking for a Linux distro to use for NaNoWriMo, why am I installing Windows 7 Professional? Honestly, because Windows 7 is a good operating system. Just because I’m pro Linux doesn’t mean I’m anti Microsoft or Apple. (Though I did go through a hating Apple phase before I got my new iPad.)
Since there’s no live environment to test, I installed Windows 7 on my Dell laptop. Installation was straightforward and within a few minutes, I was greeted with the reason I started in my Linux journey. My Dell came with Windows 10 installed. While I wasn’t a fan of the newest Microsoft OS, I did find Windows 7 a joy to use.
However, the Dell doesn’t support Windows 7. Moreover, that’s one of Windows biggest problems. Driver support with Windows is erratic. Unless the PC is made for Windows 7, there’s a big chance something won’t work. In my case, wireless, video and touchpad were all unusable. I was able to find adequate drivers after a few hours online.
With drivers installed and wireless connected, I received a message from Windows update that updates needed to installing. From my Linux experience, I thought this would take no more than 10 minutes. Three hours later and Windows is still pulling down updates. When it finally finished, I rebooted my machine and thought my update journey was over. I was wrong. Shortly after the reboot, another Windows Update notification popped up, informing me of more updates waiting for my PC. After looking at the lengthy list of patches, I cancelled the update and set about looking at the apps that come with Windows 7.
Windows comes with a sparse selection of apps. I’m okay with that. Internet Explorer, Notepad, WordPad. Windows Media Center and Windows Media player are the major apps that come with a fresh install. I’m okay with the lack of installed software. It ensures a responsive system that doesn’t use any more resources than a distro like Kubuntu 15.10. MP3 and video files played out of the box. And despite the outcries from naysayers, I didn’t find much difference between memory use in Windows and in Kubuntu 15.10.
After installing and updating Windows, it was time to bring on the software. Here is another obstacle for users. Unlike most Linux distributions, there’s no central repository to download software. There are online services like Ninite, but it’s not the same. To install software, you have to hit the web and find it, download the executable and (depending on the app) navigate through a maze of free offers, toolbars and unwanted software.
Which brings me to my last point. When running Windows, it’s good to have good anti-malware software. That’s not to say you don’t have to worry about these things using Linux, but with Windows, you don’t want to take chances. Nowadays, in an effort to make money, some developers package unwanted software with the app you downloaded. Does it happen with Linux? I can’t say with an emphatic no, but I can say that I have never had the experience.
The purpose of this review was to ask the same question with Windows 7 as I do with Linux. Can the average user install and use an operating system and its software with little or no tech knowledge. When it comes to installing Windows 7 on an unsupported laptop that answer is a resounding no.