Windows 7’s support ends in just a bit more than two weeks. What to do if you don’t want to compromise your security, but don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10 or migrate to Linux?

Here’s my advice: try out Windows 8.1!

Don’t like the start menu? That’s understandable. But there are tons of way to bring the classic W7 start menu back, including using the FOSS OpenShell:

It’s actually lighter in resources than Windows 7, and supported until January 10, 2023!

I use Windows 10 now that I’ve upgraded my computer, but I used Windows 8.1 for several years. If you have any questions about it, please ask away!

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half jokey, half serious question 

@Siphonay Is it still possible to delete system32 in Windows 8.1?

half jokey, half serious question 

@dickmandrake actually there have been safeguards against deletion of system32 since like Windows 2K so I think it’s even less possible than prior versions lol, unless you really actively want to do it for science, but it’s not gonna happen by accident

@zatnosk are you talking about this ?

It’s actually what prompted me to give W8.1 another try a few years ago, and I think it’s pretty nice. However, I’m not recommending it for a few reasons:

- I found the modifications it uses breaks Windows Updates
- It requires a license for Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro to be used legally, which is hard to come accross
- Even if this one is safe I don’t want to normalize recommending bootlegged Windows mods to everyday users

@Siphonay I was actually just trying to make a bad joke, should probably have cw'd it with "unserious answer" or something.

I didn't know about that bootleg mod, and wouldn't recommend any such thing to anyone.

@zatnosk haha I wasn’t sure but I replied seriously just in case, and if somebody actually has that question they can look at this answer

@Siphonay but can it look like the classic Windows theme, with the pseudo3d grey bar shading, that's been there since 95 (and selectable in xp and 7)?

@Mycroft it’s possible to use a color scheme reminescent of it but I don’t think such a fully fledged theme that looks like that exists, I might be wrong though

@Siphonay yeah, iirc it forces flat colors everywhere, which is what I don't like about it and 10

@Siphonay I'll mention that Windows 8 is not long for this world, either. It left mainstream support two years ago (so no new security features as of two years ago) and it exits extended support in 2023.

@Siphonay Well, in companies, there is the extended support, and they fully migrate after it ended. So I'm sure to keep a Windows 7 computer for a while at work (I still had to use a Windows XP VM two years after the support ended).

@Siphonay Not that much. A 3-year support for Windows Enterprise is less than salary I get for 2 days of work.

@Siphonay I upgraded to Windows 10 at work, and use Linux at home. Guess I'm all set! I'd be curious to try out 8.1 virtually.

@Siphonay at my lab we also run old computers on win8.1, because of the low ressource demand and high compatibility in old drivers.

@Siphonay i'm planning to migrate, but if that doesn't happen in time - how would i get 8.1?

@snailerotica Unfortunately you would have to buy a product key to use it legally (I can find them for like 26€ on grey market sites.

However Windows 7 keys work for activating Windows 10 so if you don’t mind that OS I would recommend you update to that, as it’s gonna be free

@Siphonay honestly win8.1 is fantastic but due to market share bullshit a lot of drivers are a little wonky on its support. make sure your hardware's compat w your os before you buy folks, else you get bluescreens and sadness

@pearshapes Before I upgraded to a desktop computer, I used a 2009 laptop, and to get better performance I had to use a modified, unsigned Windows 7 driver that would install on 8.1 for my graphics chipsets so yeah, I hear you lol

But high-end stuff should have drivers and WHQL drivers should be good enough for lower-end stuff? I’m not certain though

@wolfgang if you are a student your uni might have a program that lets you get Windows keys for free, including 8.1 (it went by many different names, Dreamspark, Imagine, OnTheHub… now my school have them on Azure Dev Tools for Teaching but I’m not sure it’s the case for everyone)

Else you can get keys on the grey market for like 26€

@Siphonay Thanks. I’m just strongly paranoid about running into trouble with my super-old drawing tablet that I can’t afford to replace.

@erkhyan try using a virtual machine first, and forward your tablet to it (like this on VirtualBox) and check if you can make it work

@erkhyan (if it works on Windows 7 and 10 it will work on 8.1)

@Siphonay That’s the thing. It works perfectly in Windows 7, but the model’s status in Windows 10 is “entirely unsupported but some people have managed to get it to work with specific versions of the old drivers”.


I'd go with Windows 10 LTSB edition tbh. It's the Enterprise edition of Windows 10 minus all the bloatware crust, and makes it easy to disable telemetry and control the upgrade schedule for Windows.

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