Add Win­dows 7 fea­tures to Win­dows 10

Howard Wen re­veals five apps that will let you re­store some of Win­dows 7’s fea­tures to your new PC

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

1. Aero Glass

Mi­crosoft didn’t in­clude this trans­par­ent Win­dows theme in Win­dows 10. Since the style of Aero Glass goes against the more min­i­mal, ‘flat’ de­sign that’s cur­rently pop­u­lar for op­er­at­ing sys­tems, Aero Glass’ re­turn to Win­dows may be un­likely. In a re­cent Win­dows 10 up­date, Mi­crosoft added a switch to the Col­ors sec­tion of the Set­tings app, which lets you turn on a trans­parency ef­fect to the Start Menu, taskbar and Action Cen­ter panel, but not to the ti­tle bars of ap­pli­ca­tion win­dows.

Aero Glass for Win­dows 8.1+ (tinyurl.com/zfvbofh) works with the lat­est build of Win­dows 10 to im­ple­ment a trans­parency ef­fect to ti­tle bars, and it also adds Win­dows 7-style bor­ders and ti­tle bar but­tons to ap­pli­ca­tion win­dows. Un­for­tu­nately, it doesn’t pro­vide a way to switch th­ese ef­fects off, and it adds a water­mark over the lower-right cor­ner of your desktop’s back­ground.

2. DVD movie play­back

Though Win­dows 10 recog­nises DVD drives, it doesn’t come with sup­port to play DVD movies: discs which have been en­coded with the pro­pri­etary DVD video play­back for­mat. Mi­crosoft prob­a­bly dropped this to save it­self money from hav­ing to pay li­cens­ing fees for this code. To put this func­tion into Win­dows 10, you can buy Win­dows DVD Player from the Win­dows Store. This Win­dows 10 app, an of­fi­cial pro­gram by Mi­crosoft, costs £11.59. It’s free if you are up­grad­ing to Win­dows 10 from Win­dows 7 Home Pre­mium, Professional or Ul­ti­mate, or from Win­dows 8/8.1 Pro, but any of th­ese ver­sions must have Win­dows Me­dia Cen­ter in­stalled on it.

Re­gard­less, the best choice is free: VLC (tinyurl.com/2r74L). This can play nearly any au­dio and video file for­mat you load into it, in­clud­ing DVD movies. Ver­sions of VLC are also avail­able for sev­eral other OSes, in­clud­ing An­droid, iOS, Linux and OS X. Note that for Win­dows, there are sep­a­rate 32- and 64-bit ver­sions.

3. Gad­gets

Mi­crosoft dis­con­tin­ued its wid­gets plat­form, which it called Gad­gets, long be­fore the re­lease of Win­dows 8. It cited se­cu­rity con­cerns that they could be writ­ten to harm a user’s PC as to why th­ese were dropped. While this might have been jus­ti­fied, the more ob­vi­ous rea­son is that the Win­dows univer­sal app plat­form is meant to re­place the ba­sic func­tion­al­ity of wid­gets.

If it’s been de­signed to do so, an app pinned as a tile on the Start Menu can be set to dis­play up­dated in­for­ma­tion. Such is the case with the Weather app, which can show your cur­rent lo­cal weather on its tile. But un­like Gad­gets, app tiles can­not be draggedand-dropped to any­where on the desktop: they can only be moved within the con­fines of the right half of the Start Menu.

If you have favourite Gad­gets you use in Win­dows 7 that you’d like to keep there’s 8Gad­getPack (tinyurl.com/jumhLmx). It in­stalls the orig­i­nal Mi­crosoft files of the Gad­get plat­form and tweaks Registry set­tings to make Gad­gets work on Win­dows 10. It comes packed with sev­eral Gad­gets in­clud­ing nine by Mi­crosoft, which were in Win­dows 7.

As for se­cu­rity con­cerns, in an ex­ten­sive FAQ, the (re-) de­vel­oper of 8Gad­getPack im­plies that Mi­crosoft may have over-ex­ag­ger­ated things: “Open­ing a Gad­get is as dan­ger­ous as it is to run an .exe file. But this is not a se­cu­rity hole. If an at­tacker wanted to ac­cess your com­puter, he’d need to con­vince you to open his pre­pared .gad­get file. As long as you trust the source of the gad­gets you in­stall and you use anti-virus soft­ware you should be safe.”

4. Start Menu

One of the main sell­ing points of Win­dows 10 is that Mi­crosoft brought back the Start Menu UI. How­ever, it doesn’t look or work par­tic­u­larly like Win­dows 7’s.

The free­ware pro­gram Classic Shell (tinyurl.com/mm­czktp) re­places the Win­dows 10 Start Menu with a clone of Win­dows 7’s. Or, you can switch to one that op­er­ates like Win­dows XP’s, for an even more old-school ex­pe­ri­ence: When you hover the mouse cur­sor over a folder, it au­to­mat­i­cally branches open a panel to the right that lists the short­cuts in­side it. In fact, Classic Shell orig­i­nally was devel­oped seven years ago to re­place the Win­dows 7 Start Menu with a clone of XP’s.

5. Win­dows Me­dia Cen­ter

Mi­crosoft stopped devel­op­ment of this dig­i­tal video record­ing and me­dia play­back ap­pli­ca­tion in 2009, but still of­fered it sep­a­rately for sale for Win­dows 8 Pro and 8.1 Pro. The ar­rival of Win­dows 10 fi­nally killed it: up­grad­ing a Win­dows 7 or 8/8.1 com­puter, which has Win­dows Me­dia Cen­ter in­stalled on it to Win­dows 10 ren­ders it in­op­er­a­ble, be­cause Mi­crosoft con­sider Win­dows Me­dia Cen­ter to be in­com­pat­i­ble with the newer op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

There’s a way to forcibly in­stall it onto Win­dows 10, but record­ing TV trans­mis­sions may not work due to your sys­tem’s par­tic­u­lar TV de­cod­ing hard­ware. One highly touted re­place­ment to con­sider is Me­di­aPor­tal (tinyurl.com/9zhvw), an im­pres­sive open-source pro­gram. It con­tin­ues to be in active devel­op­ment and runs on Win­dows 7, 8/8.1 and 10. There are two ver­sions. The older one re­mains sup­ported with up­dates be­cause it has more plug-ins that its users still rely on. Me­di­aPor­tal 2, be­ing devel­oped si­mul­ta­ne­ously, was started in 2011 to im­prove upon the orig­i­nal with new fea­tures, but uses a dif­fer­ent plug-in ar­chi­tec­ture.

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