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  • Make Windows 10 look and work like Windows 7

    Posted on Cybertooth Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Make Windows 10 look and work like Windows 7

    This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Rick Corbett 3 days, 17 hours ago.

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    • #2140652 Reply

      Cybertooth
      AskWoody Plus

      The most frequent objections to switching from Windows 7 (or 8.x) to Windows 10 revolve around three general areas of concern:

      1. Privacy concerns regarding the amount of information (telemetry) that Windows 10 sends from the user’s PC to Microsoft;
      2. The limitation of user choice with respect to when and whether to install Windows patches; and
      3. The replacement of three-dimensional and Aero Glass user interface elements with a flat and opaque UI.

      These three factors help to explain the reluctance among countless users of previous versions of Windows to move to Windows 10. If you are among them, supposing that these factors could be reversed or at least mitigated–would you feel less uncomfortable making the switch? Here’s a guide to help you “Sevenize” Windows 10 as much as I know to be possible.

      All the software and tweaks I mention have been performed on Windows 10 Professional, Windows Insiders edition.

      Please note that this thread is not intended for the discussion of the merits or drawbacks of Windows 10: there are many, many other places for that here at Woody’s. This thread is intended solely to ease the transition to Windows 10 for those who have been reluctant to do so for any of the reasons listed above, as well as for those who have already switched (willingly or otherwise) to Windows 10 but are unhappy with it for those reasons.

      Taming the Telemetry:

      Many applications have been published to enable you to put a stop to the snooping. I have used two of them, but you’re welcome to add your favorite one(s).

      The first privacy program I used was O&O ShutUp10. It’s a sophisticated piece of software that gives you control of individual “phone home” aspects of Windows 10. However, ultimately I found the Windows Privacy Dashboard to be easier to manage, and that’s what I’m using now. Here’s a screenshot of WPD:

      WPD
      The more items you disable there, the closer you get to replicating the Windows 7 experience with respect to user privacy. Note, though, that this assertion remains conjectural barring a formal Win7/Win10 comparison of network packets going back and forth between your PC and Microsoft servers. Anybody out there (who is fair-minded; no self-fulfilling prophets, please) with the expertise and the time to undertake such a project?

      Forced Windows Updates:

      As with Windows 10 telemetry, applications abound to stop the flow of Windows 10 updates onto your computer. Most of them, though, function as a simple on/off switch to prevent or allow updates en bloc. I am aware of two programs that enable you to pick and choose the updates you want to install, making your Windows 10 updating experience very much like the Windows 7 experience: the Windows Update MiniTool and the Windows Update Manager. To illustrate how much the patching experience resembles that of Windows 7, see the screenshot below:

      WUMGR-selective-patching
      As you see, you can select as many or as few of the updates on offer as you care to install. (Sadly, though, you’re still stuck with cumulative updates as opposed to individual patches.)

      Windows Update Manager seems to be a bit easier to use than the WUMT, and it’s the one that I use. It will allow Windows Defender definitions through even if you have blocked other updates. The blocking includes the “feature updates” that come out twice a year with new versions of Windows 10. However, I don’t know what happens if you leave the blocking turned on for long enough. Having the items checked off in the Options tab on the left works well for my purposes; under the Auto Update tab, I have every choice either unchecked or grayed out.

      User Interface:

      The changes made here will have the most immediate, visible impact on your Windows 10 experience.

      First, install OldNewExplorer to restore the Windows Explorer look from Windows 7. You can find a description of the program here, and ongoing discussion (troubleshooting, updates, etc.) here.

      Next, you can replace the Windows 10 Start menu with the Windows 7 Start menu by installing the free Open Shell Menu. There is also a modestly priced ($4.99) commercial Start menu replacement, Stardock’s Start8. Once more, there are numerous choices for Start menu replacements, but I use Open Shell Menu. (Actually, I’ve recently gone back to its predecessor, Classic Shell, for reasons I’ll explain later.)

      These changes still leave you with the flat window control buttons, flat taskbar, and opaque window titlebar of Windows 10. To regain the 3D look and Aero Glass transparency, you can proceed as follows:

      Aero Glass: You can install Aero Glass for Windows 8+. The program is not easy as 1-2-3 to install; instructions are found here. However,these instructions are not a model of clarity, at least for the uninitiated, so you may be better off starting with this set of installation instructions.

      An easier alternative is to spring for the commercial WindowBlinds ($9.99), which offers you a variety of Windows themes, including the Diamond set that closely resembles the Windows Vista and Windows 7 look. I would (and did) spring the $29.99 for the package including Object Desktop, which offers expanded possibilities for customization. You can have a field day playing with the settings.

      Here is a screenshot illustrating what you can do with the software described above. I have gone a couple of steps further and installed the Start button and 3D taskbar from Vista, my all-time favorite version of Windows:

      Sevenized-10

      (Note: If you use the Open Shell Menu, you may find that it affects the look of the Windows taskbar that you’d customized in WindowBlinds/Obect Desktop. In that case, you might prefer to use the original Classic Shell, from which Open Shell Menu is derived.)

      Miscellaneous Customizations:

      To bring your Windows 10 environment even closer to that of Windows 7, you may wish to uninstall the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps that come preinstalled in Windows 10. You know, Candy Crush and the like. For this purpose, you can uninstall them one by one, or you can use either the Windows Privacy Dashboard described above or the standalone 10AppsManager to uninstall a bunch (or all) of them with fewer clicks. If you know of other applications or methods to uninstall UWP apps, please post them here!

      Finally, when you want to search for something that resides on your PC, by default Windows 10 will–unlike Windows 7–send your search terms to Microsoft Bing. If you dislike the idea of sharing this information with MS servers, you can disable Bing in Search by following these instructions, although Da Boss here cautions that disabling Bing Search may not always work. If you use the Start menus by Open Shell or Classic Shell instead of the Windows 10 Start menu, you can go into their settings to make your searches exclusively local.

      * * * * *

      A caveat to the foregoing: it is unknown whether and for how long these customizations will continue to work in Windows 10. Whether by design or by accident, Microsoft may at any time render them ineffective, either with a regular monthly update or when a new version of Windows 10 is released. Use at your own risk. So far, they have held for me through more than one introduction of a new Win10 version.

      You may find that you don’t want or need to implement all of the tweaks and fixes listed here, and some of them may be more work than is worth your while. That’s OK: the idea is to make Windows 10 more palatable by bringing it as close to the Windows 7 experience as you care to. Have fun doing it, and enjoy your Sevenized 10!

       

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    • #2140715 Reply

      Charlie
      AskWoody Plus

      This is great information if a time ever comes when I feel the need or am otherwise inclined to use Win 10.

      Win 7 Still Alive, x64, Intel i3-2120 3.3GHz, Groups B & L

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2140721 Reply

      Kathy Stevens
      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks for the post on how to make Windows 10 look and work like Windows 7.

      In addition to your suggestions, by accident I mirrored my Windows 7 desktop appearance to my new Windows 10 PC when I used Laplink’s PCmover Professional to move my apps and files from the old to new machine.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2140730 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Plus

        I imagine this means that PCmover transfers the desktop icons and maybe the wallpaper? I’d be surprised (but very impressed! 🙂 ) if it also transferred the Aero Glass transparency for the taskbar and window borders.

         

        • #2140751 Reply

          Kathy Stevens
          AskWoody Plus

          Do to performance concerns, I did not use Aero Glass transparency for the taskbar and window borders on my Windows 7 machines.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2141363 Reply

      Rick Corbett
      AskWoody_MVP

      Anybody out there (who is fair-minded; no self-fulfilling prophets, please) with the expertise and the time to undertake such a project?

      I think this is impossible. The data is encrypted and my own tests have shown that the two-way data traffic of even clean Windows 10 installs (with no third-party apps added except for 2 network monitors – Glasswire and Nir Sofer’s CurrPorts) is not limited to Microsoft-owned IP address blocks.

      In fact, Glasswire and CurrPorts logs show that here in the UK there appears to be more traffic with MS’ partners, e.g. Content Delivery Networks like Akamai in Ireland and the Netherlands that handle MS’ network traffic (particularly Windows Defender and Store data) on its behalf than with Microsoft-owned IP addresses.

      One problem is that with load-balancing (and, I suspect, deliberate obfuscation to stop people blocking ‘known’ IP addresses) the destination IP addresses are not static so you have to pay particular attention to the originating processes rather than to the eventual endpoints… which often change.

      Another issue is that blocking IP address endpoints often seems to generate even more network traffic, based no doubt on ‘reporting back’.

      Hope this helps… .

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2141412 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Plus

        Good points, thanks!

        Maybe a more feasible experiment would be to take two plain-vanilla installations (one Windows 7 and the other Windows 10) and then compare the relative amounts of inbound and outbound traffic, whatever the source or destination. The difference would then be attributable to the inherent differences between 7 and 10. Would that yield a meaningful result, do you think?

         

    • #2141447 Reply

      Rick Corbett
      AskWoody_MVP

      Would that yield a meaningful result, do you think?

      Not really. I could almost guarantee that the volume of 2-way data transfer of Win 10 is going to be greater than Win 7 if only because of the increase in the number of Win 10 services, many of them quite ‘chatty’. A quick count of my last remaining Win 7 Pro box (not a VM) shows 171 services. By comparison, a clean install of Win 10 Pro 1909 shows 251 services. That’s a *big* increase.

      (I never checked Windows 8.x but successive iterations of Win 10 shows the following:

      1511: 196 services
      1607: 212 services
      1703: 223 services
      1709: 234 services
      1803: 239 services
      1809: 257 services
      1903: 246 services
      1909: 251 services)

      Besides, your first point was about ‘privacy concerns and telemetry’ re: Win 10. I don’t think MS has much interest any more in people tinkering with Win 7 but people here on AskWoody do ask about the pros/cons of using a Microsoft account (MSA) versus a Local account.

      Personally I’m not much interested in testing a comparison of two-way network traffic between the two, i.e. 2 clean installs with one using an MSA and the other a Local account. I can’t imagine ever using an MSA so there’s no relevance (to me).

      The general consensus of opinion here and on many other forums is that these days there is little or no point tweaking Win 10… too much effort for too little reward. But is that actually true?

      (No, it’s not… IMO. For example, I enjoy tinkering and use VMs to test apps, scripts and REG files. I disable a lot of services and several scheduled tasks to increase the performance  of the VMs, all of which run with a meagre 4GB of RAM. It’s even more noticeable on poorly-specced netbooks, many of which have rubbish processors and max out at 2GB RAM… IME they need every bit of help they can get.)

      Personally I think a more interesting test would be a side-by-side comparison of two clean installs – one a default ‘out of the box’ with all services, scheduled tasks and apps left as they are, the other install utilising ‘tweaks’. (I would find this interesting as I do not use a single one of Win 10’s default apps, with the sole exception of Notepad. To me, the rest are all bloatware.)

      I’m just wondering about what comparison metrics would be useful or even just interesting. One metric would obviously be the number of outbound connections whilst each device was just sat connected to the internet but not actually being used (and whether it was possible to stop all or most outbound connections).

      I haven’t done any real testing since 1709 was released. Using Glasswire at the time I found that there was an enormous amount of two-way traffic in the first 2 hours (with several GBs of data downloaded) following a clean install… then high volumes of traffic for a couple of days before Win 10 settled down to a regular connection ‘heartbeat’… (it looks like for Defender updates). Here’s a 3-day period I monitored back in January 2018 (Win 10 Pro 1709 at the time):

      glasswire_heartbeat

      Bear in mind that this was 1709… so the behaviour of 1903 and 1909 could be completely different. What if it’s not? What if it’s much worse in terms of frequency?

      Another metric might be the volume of 2-way network traffic in the same circumstances… but who knows? And over what period of time? It would be pointless to monitor for just a few days or even a week. I think the minimum period would have to be a month, preferably two and three would be better still in order to help ‘averaging’ and spot spikes.

      Setting up and running comparison scenarios is a *huge* amount of work. The methodology needs to be incredibly well-planned in advance if there’s any hope for the end results to be relevant and of value.

      (It’s no good having a lightbulb moment – “I should have thought of that” – a fortnight into a month-long comparison test. Been there, done that… more than once unfortunately, in my previous job where I was involved in the support of Win 7 used on ~6,500 devices over ~52 sites.)

      Recording and analysis of results is very time-consuming if they are to make any sense at all and actually have a value, both during and after the comparison.

      Also, people have different interests and what I might find interesting could bore others… in which case there’s very little reason to carry out a comparison if no-one sees the relevance.

      It’s clear that there needs to be a goal that is understood and agreed by all involved… at the end of the day, what exactly is a comparison hoping to achieve. 🙂

      Hope this helps… sorry it’s so long but it’s a complex area.

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