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  • Make Windows 10 look and work like Windows 7

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

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      • #2140652
        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:

        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:

        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:


        (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!


      • #2140715
        AskWoody Plus

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

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2140721
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Lounger

        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.
      • #2141363
        Rick Corbett

        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… .

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2141447
        Rick Corbett

        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):


        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.

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2212897
        AskWoody Plus

        In the original post above, Windows 10 users wishing to regain the Aero Glass look from Windows Vista and 7 were steered toward Stardock’s WindowBlinds as an easier alternative to Aero Glass for Win8+, which required greater technical understanding of the inner workings of Windows.

        I recently “inherited” a Windows 10 system from a family member who was sick and tired of dealing with the frustrations of Windows 10 (to the point where they weren’t even interested in customizing it for a more 7-like experience as discussed in this thread). I took it as an opportunity to revisit the idea of using Aero Glass for Win8+. I figured if I could get it working, I could add it to my recommendations, so I gave it a more determined try this time around.

        Iit wasn’t nearly as difficult an experience as the last time I tried it some years ago. Either I have learned more about Windows customization and am better prepared to deal with the complexities, or the process has been made simpler. I suspect some of each is involved here, but the lion’s share of the difference must be due to the welcome fact that there is a GUI method for adjusting the program parameters, named (not surprisingly) AeroGlassGUI.exe (download here, link near bottom of page).

        With this GUI, you don’t need to dive into the bowels of Windows as proposed in the Aero Glass for 8+ guide. Indeed, I found that none of the arcane requirements mentioned there (relating to aerohost.exe or the DWM API or various registry edits) turned out to be necessary to achieve a good-looking desktop.

        Instructions for running Aero Glass for Win8+

        Before you begin, understand that there are two ways to change the Windows 10 theme. One way is via the Personalization option in the new Settings app. You are not limited to the themes that come preinstalled with Windows 10, and one of the best places to download vetted alternative themes is at DeviantArt. In order to install third-party themes, though, you will need to download and apply the UltraUXThemePatcher. Even so, as far as I can tell you still won’t be able to get Aero Glass to work properly. For this, you will need AeroGlass for Win8+, which is the second way of changing the Windows 10 theme.

        You can download AeroGlass for Win8+ from the same page as AeroGlassGUI.exe. Place the Aero Glass folder someplace other than in a Program Files folder (for example, in Downloads or at the root of the C: drive which is where I have mine). Put AeroGlassGUI.exe in the same folder, and launch it to start getting acquainted with the interface.

        Once you have AeroGlass for Win8+ (AGfW8) up and running, you will want to explore alternative themes. The one that comes with AGfW8 is a theme based on the Windows 8.0 Release Preview, the last version of Windows to come with its own Aero Glass look. This is better than any Windows 10 theme IMO, but we are looking to make Win10 look like Windows 7, not 8.

        There are numerous Windows 7 themes on DeviantArt and other customization sites. You can have fun exploring. The one I settled on is named Windows7 ThemeAtlas Fixed. The ZIP file contains a .png file and a .png.layout file. (In case you’re interested, the .png.layout file is known as a “theme atlas”, which contains the UI elements we know and love such as the window control buttons.) Extract both of these files and copy them to the AeroGlass for Win8+ folder, then open AeroGlassGUI.exe to navigate to and then select “win7rp fix” as the “Theme atlas image” under the Theme & Appearance tab.

        You will need to experiment with the sliders in the program to approximate the Windows 7 look. Below are screenshots of the settings that I’ve settled on:




        Please note: I have no formal training in computer architecture or programming, so I can’t explain to you how various features and settings interact with each other or why. My knowledge of these things is strictly empirical. However, you may find that you’ll get the best results (particularly for the transparent taskbar) if you first install Open-Shell, the successor to the popular Classic Shell replacement for the Windows 10 Start menu. Experiment enough, and you may end up with a desktop that looks something like this:


        As a safety measure, before you begin make sure to create a system image and/or to set a restore point!

        One final observation: each new Windows 10 version (“feature update”) has a propensity to break customizations. This goes for both WindowBlinds and AGfW8, forcing their respective developers to repeatedly modify their programs in order to keep up with the changes Microsoft makes to Windows 10. However, while the pursuit of beauty takes ongoing effort, in my view it is fully worth it to be able to work in an esthetically pleasing setting.

        Let me know how you make out with Aero Glass for Win8+ and the theme installation process, and of course tell me if I need to correct any mistakes above.

        Good luck, and enjoy!

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2233565
        AskWoody Plus

        While looking for something else, I just rediscovered this excellent rundown for using the Windows Update Manager by @bobbyb.


        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2275494
        AskWoody Plus

        For those who would like to give Windows 10 the Windows 7 look but first want to get an idea of how it’s done before trying it themselves, here’s a pair of YouTube videos. Be ready to hit the Pause button often so you can focus on the mouse clicks:

        The first video is narrated in English. The second video has no narration, but shows some alternative approaches to achieving the Win7 look.


        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2276032
        AskWoody Plus

        For anybody who might be reading this,  🙂  here’s a little quiz:

        Does the following desktop look familiar?


        If you don’t know, there is a way to cheat if you know what to look for…


        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2276147
        AskWoody MVP

        I wasn’t going to bother to customize the look of W10… but reading here, and watching the videos, I got motivated!

        Windows 7 start menu is sooo much better when it comes to being useful for navigation. I’ve tried, really tried, to get used to W10, the way Microsoft wants me to use it… but I hate that I can’t remove things I will never, ever use, like People and XBox game bar… that I have to navigate around/over them all the time.

        Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2276178
          AskWoody Plus

          It wasn’t as hard to make these changes as I had feared. The most important element is the patience to get to understand the process before jumping in, as it involves a number of moving parts. The second most important element is to make image backups and to create frequent restore points in case we mess things up. (I never did have to resort to an image backup, but I did have to go back to a previous restore point once or twice in order to “try again”.)

          If you decide to take the plunge, I’ll be around to help if I can.


          1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2276727
          AskWoody Plus

          People and XBox game bar

          I run w10 and i have no clue what these are…


          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
          • #2276756

            The People taskbar widget is for pinning contacts to the taskbar, and Xbox Game Bar is an application for capturing video of the screen or capturing a screenshot.

      • #2276150
        AskWoody Plus

        Try 10AppsManager to remove some Windows 10 Store bloatware:

        On Hiatus {with backup and coffee}
        offline▸ Win10Pro 2004.19041.572 x64 i3-3220 RAM8GB HDD Firefox83.0b3 WindowsDefender TRV=1909 WuMgr
        offline▸ Win10Pro 20H2.19042.685 x86 Atom N270 RAM2GB HDD WindowsDefender WuMgr GuineaPigVariant
        online▸ Win10Pro 20H2.19042.804 x64 i5-9400 RAM16GB HDD Firefox86.0 WindowsDefender TRV=20H2 WuMgr
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2276495
        AskWoody Plus

        Ref. post #2276032: The Windows Explorer look that’s cryptically hinted at there, is one of the many GUI designs that ever so briefly saw the light of day among the numerous builds of Windows Longhorn, the precursor of Vista.

        Yes, yes, it’s not exactly a Windows 7 look as promised in this thread,  🙂  but I wanted to bring attention to what I consider to be the most beautiful variety of the most beautiful version of Windows.

        Just clicking through the builds on the Longhornization website (start with Milestone 3, then after Milestone 7 proceed to the pre-Beta builds and finally Beta stages 1 and 2) was a nice brisk walk through a wood of foregone possibilities.

        This archive also made for an enjoyable, more extended tour.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2307369
        AskWoody Plus

        The options for a proper Vista/Win7 look are increasing with the use of Stardock’s WindowBlinds. The artist NewInfinitePro has put together some beautiful theme packs for use with WindowBlinds, such as AeroVistaX Reset.


        The glass transparency doesn’t yet seem to be quite up to the clarity we had in Vista and 7, but in terms of the aesthetics this is head and shoulders above anything offered natively on Windows 10. Compared to AeroGlass, the price ($9.99) is IMHO well worth the amount of effort saved, as it’s much more simple and straightforward to use.


      • #2356669
        AskWoody Plus

        The AeroGlass project has been dormant for a year and is apparently abandoned, as it has not worked on recent versions of Windows 10 and no updates to make it work have been released.

        This shattered hopes for those of us who prefer the Aero Glass look. However, WindowBlinds has a feature in the program settings to “force non-acrylic blur on later Windows 10 versions.” This has made possible something like the following…


        …which gets us much closer to Aero Glass than anything we’d seen outside of the moribund AeroGlass project.

        (N.B. I learned of this option from a  discussion on this page.)


      • #2357524
        AskWoody MVP

        In keeping with the title of this thread,
        Win7games seems to provide even more nostalgic Win7 looks on W10.

        Classic Games
        Classic Calculator
        Classic Sticky Notes
        Classic Start Manager
        Classic MSConfig
        Classic Paint

        W10, the itch you simply cannot scratch!
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2360959
        E Pericoloso Sporgersi
        AskWoody Plus

        Except for the dark blue desktop colour, I’m very close to have my Windows 10 look and feel like Windows 95, the looks of which are still my favourite. (I had 98, XP, Vista and 7 all look like 95.)
        (The rise of colour television caused billiards, pool and snooker tables shown in tournament broadcasts, to switch from green to dark blue. Remember?)

        In my dual monitor setup my laptop is the 17.3″ secondary screen, left half in the image, while my external 27″ monitor is the primary screen in the right half.

        Because they’re both 1920×1080, of course they’re equally large in the screenshot. The first image is the screenshot, the second I tweaked to show what I actually see in front of me.


        What I see

        With Winaero Tweaker I can stop Windows sending reports home and with Swift Search I avoid querying Bing. Except for Windows Defender, I disable automatic updates and, in most apps, I even switch off automatic checking for updates. Instead I watch the update anouncements at Dutch, which reports about updates very promptly and reliably, and I update manually. Of course I also watch Susan …

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