Moving Back to Windows 7 from 8 without Really TryingTo keep up with my clients’ needs, I have machines with various editions of Windows and Linux installed. Switching from one to another is a bit like a jazz musician switching instruments. The underlying song is still being developed, but the implementation changes a bit.

This analogy came home recently when I suddenly realized that the Windows 8 computer I now use for most purposes has slowly morphed back into Windows 7. Instead of keeping a separate identity like the musical instruments would, the 8 machine now operates and looks like a normal Windows 7 computer. That was not my intent. It just happened. Actually, it has not totally reverted to Window 7 yet because I have not found a way to restore the “Exit Windows” sound. That is a frustration not easily solved with a quick search on Google.

After installing a Start button (many varieties are available for free download — that ought to be a message to Microsoft by itself), I seldom bother to open the Metro GUI because my computer is touch-challenged. So the user experience on my 8 computer is similar to the old Windows 7 except that this system is protected by Windows Defender instead of Microsoft Security Essentials. My logon password is more complex than with 7 because 8 got snarky unless I followed the protocol of including upper case, lower case, and numerals. Okay, I get it, but remember the year that cars would not start unless all passengers fastened their seatbelts? That regulation quickly changed to sending a gentle audio reminder if the driver is not belted in. Software developers could take a lesson from that adventure into over-control and customer rebellion.

But since I spent good money to upgrade to Windows 8, I decided to make a list of at least five things that 8 does better than 7 if you are not using a touchscreen. Making this list would emphasize the importance of upgrading and justify the expense and the effort. Note: the necessity of re-installing programs that worked quite well under 7 before the upgrade is part of the upgrade effort. That requirement was a bit of a surprise since it has not always existed in other upgrades.

The List: What 8 Does Better Than 7

  • Item 1: The first thing that came to mind is the ability to span a panoramic picture over two monitors. That is nice. Under 7, I could only do the same thing by using the Tiling command with back and forth cropping until it fit. That is ugly. With the Span option in 8, I was able to grab a snippet from Google Earth of our neighborhood and install it as a desktop spanning two monitors in minutes with no problem.
  • Items 2 through 5: I could not find any. The App Store might qualify.

Fellow LockerGnome writer Ron Schenone assures me that those who purchase a new PC have downgrade rights if they have the Pro version. But since I have not found compatibility problems with the Pro installation, and since it seems like a tame version of 7 (after installing a Start button), why change? Maybe someday I will replace the monitors with touch-enabled ones and then the Metro option will shine.

(There is one minor compatibility issue: Firefox does not seem to want to play videos, but Internet Explorer and Chrome have no issues.)

So here is my challenge to you: Try to fill out my list of five things that 8 does better than 7 for non-touchscreen installations. Then list any incompatibilities or missing things you could do in 7, and subtract the two numbers. If the result is positive, then 8 is better over all; if it is negative, then upgrading was a mistake. Please share your results in the comments below.