It's been some years since Windows 7 came out, and apparently, I never got over it, as I sit here today on my Windows 7 laptop with about 8GB of storage left. And apparently, neither did most of the world as it still sits on top of the rankings as the most popular OS to date. Currently, based on different numbers throughout the interwebs, Windows 7 dominates market share with roughly 55% computers worldwide still running it. And for good reason. It was the first OS that just worked out of the box. It didn't try to be flashy and it didn't try to be cool. It was made of Windows, a taskbar, a kick-ass start button and not much else. Applications run on it and it turns on and off when it needs to. I still do all of my programming on it, and I don't see myself changing that anytime soon.
I've used Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, and they're good OS's in their own rights. I have a Surface 3, which runs Windows 10, and I have an old laptop running Windows 8.1, which used to run Windows 8, but let's not talk about Windows 8 just yet. So far to date, every new Windows version that comes tries to copy Windows 7, but by adding weird and hip turns and twists into the mix, like an M Night Shyamalan film. Windows 8 had the Metro UI, which was altered in Windows 8.1, and altogether removed in Windows 10. Windows 10 works like Windows 7, but with many extra features thrown in that most people will probably never use, such as multiple desktops and Cortana, but it's nice to have just in case.
So let's go over some history on Windows 7, to set some back story to this worldwide fascination. By July of 2012, Windows 7 had an estimated 650 million installs worldwide. It broke records for Amazon pre-sale orders, surpassing even that of Harry Potter books. It's still to date Microsoft's fastest selling Operation System, having sold over 100 million in just 2 weeks.
If the numbers didn't already speak for themselves, with the massive market share percentage of 55%, usually Amazon reviews do a decent job of telling it how it is.
There's just something about Windows 7 that people love. Reading the reviews, most people are just happy to hear that the OS just works, especially after the disaster that was Windows Vista.
After Windows Vista came out, I was ready to give on Windows and start a new life with a typewriter. But Microsoft heard the complaints and gifted everyone with Windows 7. Some of my favorite Windows features started with 7 and continue on to this day, such as pinning items to the taskbar, the glorious Start button that houses many a thing, Windows snap, which easily snaps windows onto several different quadrants. All of these features are still active today in the latest releases.
Due to its large market share, you can better believe that software vendors are going to make sure that their products run on Windows 7. And this is going to be true for a while. While Microsoft is slowly trying to phase people away from Windows 7, software is keeping right in line with it.
Alot of work was done to Windows 7 to get it to be a lean machine. The minimum hardware requirements are laughable by today's standards. But that's a great thing, because it means that with the natural progression of hardware you'll get a faster and faster machine. Improvements were made to boot times and multi-core processors got a bump in performance as well. With an SSD installed, I can boot up Windows in roughly 2 seconds.
It Has All My Stuff
So personally for me, 6 years of work and applications and setup and configuration are hard to transfer over to a new operating system. I just know that many many things won't work anymore. And that makes me feel a bit uneasy, as I'm having no problems with Windows 7, so there's very little need to upgrade. Even after Microsoft stops supporting Window 7, I'll probably still be using it. And I think this is true for most people today using Windows 7. It just works. There's no reason to upgrade and to learn an entirely new layout and menu scheme.
It Just Works
Windows 7 has not let me down so far. It boots up at a reasonable time, it shuts down in a reasonable time, most things are within 3 clicks reach and it doesn't blue screen usually. Those are the main requirements I have when looking at an OS.
So Why Is It So Popular?
There's two reasons why Windows 7 will be around for a good long while. The first being that it's successor was terrible. Windows 8 made you wish you knew how to revert back to Windows 7. Many of those who hadn't made the switch read the complaints and stuck around for a bit longer, like I myself did. I tried 8 on an older laptop, and said no thanks. Then 8.1 came out, and it was pretty good. But, still not enough for me to change my mind about the whole thing. Then Windows 10 came out. And I'll say this, I really like Windows 10. I use it at work, I use it on my Surface 3, but when I got that notification telling me it was time:
I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I said thanks Microsoft, but not thanks. Windows 7 has been with me for the past 6 years day in and day out, and to delete it, just like that, with a single button click would be a travesty. So if you still have Windows 7 running on your machine, then kudos to you. I hope it's been as helpful to you as its been to me and that it continues to do so until 2020 when it is left behind to fend for itself.
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Walter G. is a software engineer, startup co-founder, former CTO of several tech companies and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He has been blogging for the past 5 years and is an avid BMX rider, bio-hacker
and performance enthusiast.