Top 7 Things to Hate About Windows 7

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Windows 7 has been a much more successful product than the often reviled Windows Vista. Corporations never embraced Vista on a wide scale and customers found many things to hate about Windows Vista. Customers sought loopholes and workarounds to avoid getting Vista pre-installed on a new PC. Windows 7 is definitely not plagued by this same reception, yet a few years after Windows 7 was released, there are still things to hate about Windows 7.

1) Windows XP Upgrade Isn’t Pretty

Prior to the release of Windows 7, Microsoft liked to pretend that Windows Vista was a perfectly ordinary upgrade that everyone should be making. Therefore, the upgrade to Windows 7 should be from Windows Vista. However, in the real world, more people than not were upgrading from XP to Windows 7. Instead of a standard, default upgrade path, users have to endure a painful “custom” upgrade.

2) Compatibility with Windows XP Networking

By far, the biggest thing to hate about Windows 7 is its uneven compatibility with Windows XP networking. Using the network features of XP in a small home network was always tough. The features were designed with businesses and IT professionals in mind, and taking full advantage of XP’s networking required Windows Servers that most home networks never had. Setting up a workgroup and sharing resources were so cumbersome that most home networks skipped over using any security leaving their networks wide open, a problem exacerbated by the growing adoption of often unencrypted wireless networks.

Fortunately, Microsoft addressed many of these issues with the new home networking features of Windows 7. Unfortunately, almost all of these improvements are lost to any Windows XP machines in the home.

At my house, for example, there are three Windows 7 computers, two Windows 7 laptops, two Windows XP netbooks, and an old Windows XP machine lingering on the network full of those old files you aren’t sure you ever will need again. Connecting to a shared Windows 7 printer from Windows XP requires lowering the default Windows 7 security and then connecting via the old XP method. Even if you get it all connected properly, the smallest changes to the Windows 7 network are likely to break those connections.

It seems that for all the trouble, Microsoft could have created an optional utility or update that would have enabled home users to take advantage of at least some of the homegroup’s improved functionality.

3) Up One Folder Button is Gone

Ever since Microsoft tried to avoid antitrust issues by claiming that Internet Explorer was part of the operating system, it has been trying to make that a true statement. The latest foray in this direction was the elimination of the hugely useful button that moves the user up one folder in the directory tree, regardless of how one arrived at the current screen. In its place are forward and back buttons, like in a web browser. Unfortunately, using these buttons can be a crap shoot. Do you remember where your “back” goes? Does your “forward” go back up the directory tree, down the tree, or someplace altogether different?

The up button always went exactly where you expected it to, making it easy to move from the subfolder of the parent folder with a click of a button. Microsoft got so many complaints about its removal, that it is bringing the button back as part of the default explorer interface in Windows 8.

4) Inconsistent Naming

One continuous nuisance of Windows 7 is the inconsistent folder naming convention. Seeking to move away from the unhelpful and patronizing My Documents, My Pictures, My Music motif of Windows XP, Microsoft changed the default naming convention of those folders to the simpler and cleaner Documents, Pictures and Music. Well, sort of.

Reasons to Hate Windows 7 - 1

By default, Windows 7 creates LIBRARIES titled Documents, Pictures and Music. However, those libraries correspond to files within the actual folders of My Documents, My Pictures and My Music. A library can be used to contain multiple folders and many users do take advantage of that feature. Many users, on the other hand, keep all their documents in the My Documents folder, all their pictures in My Pictures, and all their music in My Music which means that it depends on how you are looking at the files and folders on your computer to know which one to use. Click Save As and then start looking at the ‘Ms'; you’ll find that the usual “My” folders aren’t there because you are looking at libraries instead.

5) Control Panel Nightmare

Microsoft’s plan, no doubt, was to make the Windows 7 control panel simpler. In a way, that goal was accomplished. The initial screen of the control panel is indeed less cluttered and intimidating. Unfortunately, this simplicity hides numerous functions and features in a very unintuitive manner. Even worse, for users who are savvy about Windows (those who USE control panel) it takes more clicks to find and change something.

6) App Data

Way back in the Windows 3.x days, Microsoft accidentally created a seemingly unsolvable problem of file management by jamming a bunch of files from Microsoft applications into the Windows folder in order to ensure that they were always accessible by the system. The problem is that other software developers followed suit and the Windows folder became a place where there were a lot of files that had nothing to do with the Windows operating system.

In Windows 7, Microsoft’s attempt at cleaning up the mess of applications scattering files around the hard drive was to provide a Vista-like AppData folder for every user. Applications are supposed to place user specific files in the AppData folder for the user. It is in AppData that users should find important program files to back up, delete, restore, import or export from outside the application.

Unfortunately, most users need a map and a compass to find anything in AppData. First, there are three folders: Local, LocalLow and Roaming. These words don’t mean the same thing to most users as they do to the programs that put files there. A user looking for information from a program run exclusively on their main computer expects to look in Local. However, since the location of the data has more to do with whether the program expects the data to roam with the user’s profile than with how the user views their use of the program, there is a good chance that plenty of important data is in Roaming. Even worse, most programs will have some files in both local and in roaming.

7) Program Compatibility 32-bit and 64-bit

Microsoft made a pretty good effort at supporting legacy applications by providing an XP Mode that allows users to run programs in Windows XP. Still, there are a lot of applications that work fine on the 32-bit version of Windows 7, but don’t work or are buggy on the 64-bit version.

Overall, the power and usability of Windows 7 is meeting the needs of most users and businesses. And, many of the above can be worked through. Still, with a major interface redesign coming in Windows 8, these reasons to hate Windows 7 are area for Microsoft to work on before the next OS comes out.

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