5 Ways To Hold On To An Old Version Of Windows

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Your new computer came with the latest version of Windows. While you really like the added speed and storage space, you cannot come to terms with the new OS. Or maybe some of your hardware or software isn’t compatible. Here is how you can combine the best of the old with the new Windows.

Try Compatibility Mode

In many ways, Windows hasn’t changed that much over the years. If your strongest reason for wanting to hold on to an old version is issues with running older software or games, try compatibility mode.

To enable compatibility mode in Windows 7 or 8, right-click the respective program shortcut, select Properties, and switch to the Compatibility tab.

Windows Compatibility Mode

In Windows 8, click Run compatibility troubleshooter, which will aid you in identifying settings to fix issues. In Windows 7 you can click Help me choose the settings, which opens a Help and Support window with suggestions; from there you can also launch the troubleshooter.  In both Windows 7 and 8 you can check the button to Run this program in compatibility mode for a matching operating system.

Dual Boot Your Old Operating System

The advantage of a dual boot is that you’re running full versions of both operating systems and can share files between them. The compromise is that the only way to switch between the two Windows versions is to reboot. You will also need a legal copy of Windows to install into the dual boot setup.

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Setting up a Windows dual boot is surprisingly easy. Basically, it’s a matter of installing the second operating system on a separate partition and Windows will automatically take care of the rest. Note that this separate partition could be an external drive. Once installed, you will be asked which version of Windows you would like to boot whenever you start your computer.

Windows Dual Boot Choose OS

Depending on which versions of Windows you want to dual boot, you might run into different issues or subtleties, which is why it’s worth looking into the following setup guides: Microsoft on setting up a Windows multiboot, SevenForums’ guide to dual booting Windows 7 and XP, our guide on how to dual boot Windows 8 with Windows 7, and EightForums’ dual boot installation guide for Windows 8 and 7 or Vista.

Run It In A Virtual Machine

With a virtual machine you can run one operating system from the desktop of another. This is a great way to test a new operating system or run certain programs in an older version of Windows. While you don’t have to reboot to switch between one OS and the other, the drawback is that virtual machines are often resource intensive and could end up being slower than a proper installation.

One of the best tools for running an old version of Windows on your new computer is VirtualBox. The open source tool is completely free and supports all current versions of Windows, as well as Linux and Mac. If this sounds like a good deal, read our full VirtualBox review or our guide to installing Windows 7 on VirtualBox.

Run Windows In Virtual Machine

Install XP Mode

XP Mode is a type of virtual machine for running Windows XP SP3 on a virtual hard disk. It’s freely available for Professional versions of Windows 7, although a license for XP will also let you enable XP Mode otherwise.

To run XP Mode on Windows 7, you need to install Windows Virtual PC. We have previously outlined the XP Mode configuration.

Windows Virtual PC

Installing XP Mode on Windows 8 requires a hack, which my colleague Chris outlined in his article.

Windows 8 XP Mode

Change The Interface

If the sole source of your frustration is the new interface, change it. You can make Windows 7 look like Windows XP by switching to a different theme.

In Windows 8, you can also change the theme. Furthermore, Windows 8.1 allows you to avoid the modern interface by booting straight to the desktop (Windows 8.1 Update 1 does this automatically for destkop computers). Briefly, go to the desktop, right-click the taskbar, select Properties, and switch to Navigation. Under Start screen, check the box When I sign in or close all applications on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.

Windows 8 Boot To Desktop

Don’t Hold On Too Long & Go With The Times

Holding on to an old version of Windows isn’t worth it in the long run, especially if it’s for sentimental reasons. Eventually, you’ll have to bite the bullet and upgrade to a new operating system.

Are you still sticking to an old version of Windows or are you helping someone do so and what’s the reason? Is switching to Linux or Mac easier than accepting changes in Windows?

Image credits: Multi Boot Screen by Mitch Garvis

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