In a previous post, I reviewed the concerns and options of Windows 7 desktop and laptop (collectively, “PC”) users in the wake of the Windows 10 release. The evidence reviewed in that post led to several conclusions. First, Microsoft was clearly taking aggressive measures to drive Windows 7 users to Windows 10. Those measures reportedly included pressuring chip manufacturers to insure that Windows 7 would not run on new CPUs, and downloading and installing Windows 10 without user consent.
Unfortunately, Windows 10 was not designed specifically for PC users, but was rather an attempt to serve widely different kinds of hardware with a single interface. As such, it indicated that Microsoft was continuing to disregard keyboard (i.e., desktop and laptop PC) computing in favor of an interface that would favor mobile devices.
As detailed in that previous post, Microsoft was pushing Windows 10, not because it was a genuinely superior tool for Windows 7 users, but rather because it served corporate purposes. In particular, it would position Microsoft to dominate the Internet of Things (IoT), it would set up PC users as guinea pigs for beta testing of updates before sending those updates to enterprise customers, and it would provide revenues from users’ detailed personal information.
It appeared, in short, that the Windows 7 era represented a period when Microsoft felt that its best interests lay in producing a genuinely stable and useful PC operating system. Before Windows 7, the company had been unwilling and/or unable to offer an OS with the quality of IBM’s OS/2 or Apple’s Mac. And now, for many reasons cited in the previous post, many Win7 users seemed to feel that Microsoft was taking us back into the Dark Ages.
In the 2000s, I had responded to the flakiness of Windows XP by switching to Ubuntu Linux and running XP within a virtual machine (VM). The performance was not great, but to my surprise XP was significantly more stable in the VM than as a native OS running free. Later, I left Ubuntu when Windows 7 appeared and proved itself superior. And now the pendulum seemed to be swinging again. It seemed to be time, that is, to look back to Linux as a solution that would provide long-term computing stability.
I had found that the Linux world did not always keep up with the latest and coolest tools available in Windows. As advised in the previous post, I had already downloaded and activated the free upgrade from Windows 7 to 10, and had made an image of that installation, so I had it if I needed it, either as a standalone installation or for conversion into a virtual machine. At that time (and perhaps still), there was also the option of downloading a canned Win7 or Win10 VM. I did expect to run one or more versions of Windows in a VM, to handle those uses where Linux did not offer a suitable tool and where Wine or CrossOver failed to run a Windows program on Linux.
At present, then, my decision was to explore relatively nondisruptive ways of trying Linux, to see how well it would address my needs. If Linux just wasn’t going to work for my purposes, I would return to my abortive efforts to install and tweak Windows 10. But if Linux did work for my purposes, I would be able to avoid the time, aggravation, and expense that Windows 10 might require. My next steps were to do some exploring and make some decisions about relevant hardware and software.