I'm having a tough time trying to buy a computer with Windows 7 on it. Is Windows 7 really gone and is Microsoft not supporting it anymore? - Ed
With every new version of Windows comes this common situation; Microsoft really wants everyone to migrate to their latest version and incentivizes retailers to help them.
If you shop at big box retailers, you are likely to hear lots of interesting stories about how Windows 7 is no longer available, but rest assured it is.
In general, Microsoft allows OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to sell a previous version of Windows for at least 2 years from the release date of a newer OS.
That means you should be able to get a computer built for you that is pre-loaded with Windows 7 until at least October of 2014 and likely much longer if Microsoft sees that demand is still strong.
As for Microsoft supporting Windows 7, you have nothing to worry about there either.
Mainstream support is available until January of 2015 and extended support (that will include security updates) will go until January of 2020.
The primary reason you won't see many Windows 7 computers at major retailers is that it complicates the selling process, causes inventory headaches and requires a more knowledgeable sales staff.
The key to finding a company that can provide you with a computer pre-loaded with Windows 7 is to search for companies that support businesses.
Businesses IT departments are generally very cautious when converting an entire company over to a new operating system, so they require their vendors to continue to support their existing standards.
In fact, Windows XP still has extended support from Microsoft until April of 2014 and Vista until April of 2017. We still have business customers that require us to build them new computers with Windows XP because their business software isn't compatible with Windows 7!
Windows 8 is such a dramatic departure from the traditional user experience, that it causes a lot of confusion and frustration for those that don't like change (which is most of us).
Windows 8 loads to a new tiled interface that replaces the old Start menu (it is the Start menu now) which throws most new users for a loop.
For anyone using Windows 8 that absolutely wants their 'Start' button back and wants the computer to bypass the new 'tiles' (formerly called the Metro interface), I've got a great free solution.
It's called Classic Shell and it allows you to reconfigure Windows 8 to closely resemble older versions of Windows including a classic, XP and 7 interface. It recreates the Start button, bypasses the tiles at startup and goes right to the familiar old Desktop.
This free tool gives you the option of getting a Windows 8 system but allow you to use your familiar interface when you need to get things done and learn about the new interface at your leisure.
If you are concerned about Windows 8 compatibility issues, you can cross check your important apps and devices at Microsoft's compatibility center site: www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/compatibility/win8/CompatCenter
Ken Colburn, President Data Doctors Computer Services - www.datadoctors.com
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