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  1. #1
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    An OS guaranteed to look the same forever?

    I can't be the only one with this use case: my 90-year-old father and 91-year-old mother-in-law have been using WinXP and Office 2003 for a decade, and I am going to have to wean them off it when security support ends next year. Neither of them distinguishes the operating system: XP is just "my computer". I can update hardware without them noticing, but a change of software look and feel is going to be a big problem. (Microsoft recently did something incomprehensible to my father's Hotmail, and he is still struggling with this newfangled Outlook.com.) The only software they use is a web browser and web email client and MS Word (2003, since you ask).
    Optimistically, I am looking for a replacement OS that acts, looks and feels nearly like XP and is guaranteed to look the same way for another decade. I think I could just about convert them to Win7, but that gains only another 6 years before it also goes out of support. I see no chance of getting the olds to cope with Win8 - it looks far too different.
    It is no problem if OS updates make quite fundamental changes under the hood, but on top it should look as though nothing has changed. This is exactly the opposite of what software developers impose: they are always changing the eye candy.
    I have looked at some Linux distributions, and some might be close enough to XP in style to be a substitute, but the Linux developers seem even worse at maintaining consistency of appearance over time. Ubuntu's idea of long-term support is only 5 years, and it has changed visual appearance repeatedly over the last two years.
    Does anyone know of a way to make Win8 look and behave like XP, or know of another OS whose developers promise not to change the appearance over a really long time? (For Win8 to "behave like XP" means, at a minimum, that it must be virtually impossible to get to the tiled interface, there needs to be a traditional Start menu with shutdown, and the word processor must look familiar - no ribbon.)
    I keep thinking that in another couple of decades I will need a similar solution for myself.

  2. #2
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Does anyone know of a way to make Win8 look and behave like XP, or know of another OS whose developers promise not to change the appearance over a really long time? (For Win8 to "behave like XP" means, at a minimum, that it must be virtually impossible to get to the tiled interface, there needs to be a traditional Start menu with shutdown, and the word processor must look familiar - no ribbon.)
    I keep thinking that in another couple of decades I will need a similar solution for myself.
    Anyone? I guess that includes me. Eh?
    I'm a computer tech, of 33 years and I know exactly what you're facing, with the 'folks'.
    I am still on XP myself and will be till they pry this mouse out of my cold, dead, hands.

    There is absolutely NO reason to upgrade to anything else, for 'folks' of that age, as long as you can keep that old PC running.
    For myself and my XP customers, I've already shut off Windows Update, so those Bogus updates from MS cannot cripple the OS. I've already had to fix two computers, earlier this year, because of an MS update that totally disabled XP.

    But if things break down and you're forced to use a different OS, the very first thing you should install and customize to your liking is the "Classic Shell", and then run the script "Grant Admin Full Control".
    With the Classic Shell in place, I can tweak and tune Windows 8 to look and run just like XP, and no, you don't ever have to see the Metro Screen. Classic Shell can be told to jump right to the desktop, on boot.
    And with the Quick Shutdown shortcut on the desktop, you can bypass all the steps that Win-8 takes to do a simple Shutdown. I've been using a Quick Shutdown icon on the desktop for me and my customers since the Windows 98 days.

    Then setup the desktop with icons to look just like XP. I've done that for myself and I know for a fact, it Works. If you need any personalized help, PM me.

    My own Windows 8 desktop:


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  4. #3
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    Thanks for your suggestion, DrWho. I will have to try out Classic Shell. I had not considered it because the author makes fairly modest claims for what it will/will not do to restore XP features to Win8, but it sounds from your experience as though it will do as much as I need. But there seem to be unexpected ways to get dumped into the new tiled interface (I don't have Win8 yet, so I am going on what Woody says in his introductory tour).
    I still remember the day when Blaster took out thousands of XP desktops at my work in a few minutes (not mine, because I had done my own patching rather than waiting for IT to roll out patches). I don't want to be Family Support Expert (TM) if a similar hole is found in XP after security updates end, so I am planning to replace the XP machines before April. Of course, if you are still using XP safely in several years' time, you will have the right to laugh at my paranoia.
    Anyway, thanks.

  5. #4
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    Win 8 uses the ribbon interface for Windows explorer so you may want to consider that in relation to the amount of usage it will see. It also does dump out to the tiled interface unexpectedly but most of those can be adjusted for and the recommendation is to put the Desktop tile upper left, first and foremost so a simple Enter actives that tile and returns immediately to the desktop.
    I'm another one for whom updates barely moves the needle, I only update for function not for security, XP even has a add-on feature called Steady State that virtualizes the runtime install so one doesn't have to worry a bit about getting infected but I'm uncertain about how it will function when support ends because it invokes automatic updating each time it starts unless deactivated before restarting...so will it get stuck on checking for updates if left on and the service no longer works or will it be able to move on and start up normally? Won't know till we get there I guess.
    Sent from Windows ME thru Opera 10.63...just before they crashe

  6. #5
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    Personally, I'd get a Win7 computer while you still can. Note Dell still makes Win7 readily available in both desktop and laptop form factors. Put shortcuts on the desktop to the three programs they use so they'll never have to dig into the Start menu, shut off aero transparency, and they'll hardly be able to tell the difference from XP ... and you'll never run the risk of getting dumped into Win8's tiled interface unexpectedly. Reuse their existing Office 2003 on the new computer; it will work just fine.

    As for Win7's longevity, I'd be surprised if support didn't get extended (like XP did) because it's just too danged popular. Given the poor acceptance of Win8, Microsoft won't be able to kill Win7 as early as they'd like.

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  8. #6
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    I use StartIsBack. Not free, but it's only $3 for a two PC license, and upgrades are free. The Explorer Ribbon can be minimized/hidden so that it's not intrusive, and I've never been un-expectantly dumped into the Metro UI. It's like Windows 7 v1.5.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
    Unleash Windows

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  10. #7
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    my 90-year-old father and 91-year-old mother-in-law have been using WinXP and Office 2003 for a decade
    Windows 7 will be your best bet.
    If they outlive Windows 7, then thank your lucky stars that you get to spend more time with them.
    Irrigardless of whatever changes.
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  12. #8
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    As everyone has stated, both Win 7 and Win 8 can be set up to look like Win XP with the use of a Start Menu replacement app. I use both Classic Shell and Start8 for our PCs. Both are equally as effective. I think Classic Shell may offer more options.

    Either of these excellent OSes can be made to look like and feel just like their familiar XP with the added benefit of the extra security built into these newer OSes. This is my opinion only. Others do have differing opinions. You will have to decide which will work best for you.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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  13. #9
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Here's a review of Classic Shell:

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/20267...-for-free.html

    I haven't used Classic Shell; but based on this review, plus what some other people have said, I'll bet you could install Classic Shell to make both machines look and feel just like XP.

    You shouldn't have any problems using MS Office 2003 with Windows 8. I never had any problem with it. But the only thing I would suggest is that you install Windows 8 32-bit rather than 64-bit, because 32-bit is more backward compatible than 64-bit. My gut feeling is that you may need that backward compatibility in order to avoid problems with Office 2003, a 32-bit package.

    By going with Windows 8 rather than with Windows 7, it will be a lot longer before support is halted by Microsoft.

    I hope that your father and mother-in-law live a very long time.

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  15. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    I hope that your father and mother-in-law live a very long time.
    They already have...I'd sign on the dotted line for that right now.
    Sent from Windows ME thru Opera 10.63...just before they crashe

  16. #11
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    If Linux would run on the same PC as they use now, there is a Luna Theme for Ubuntu, Mint, or related LinuxDistros. It is said to have the look and some of the feel of Windows XP.
    linuxmint.info/make-linux-ubuntu-mint-others-look-like-windows-xp-using-the-gtk3-mate-luna-theme/

    Remember though, Linux is a different OS from Windows, so setting up and maintaining it has different routines and requirements. That's for you to know as you decide what to do, since you will be the one doing the maintenance, as I see it in the OP.
    -- Bob Primak --

  17. #12
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    will never happen

    jsut like cars never changing
    telephones never changing

    vendors want obsolescence
    and the market forces them to improve things in order to compete

    hang onto the old working device as long as you can
    then get a new one and learn it when you are forced to do that

    Quote Originally Posted by pvdun View Post
    I can't be the only one with this use case: my 90-year-old father and 91-year-old mother-in-law have been using WinXP and Office 2003 for a decade, and I am going to have to wean them off it when security support ends next year. Neither of them distinguishes the operating system: XP is just "my computer". I can update hardware without them noticing, but a change of software look and feel is going to be a big problem. (Microsoft recently did something incomprehensible to my father's Hotmail, and he is still struggling with this newfangled Outlook.com.) The only software they use is a web browser and web email client and MS Word (2003, since you ask).
    Optimistically, I am looking for a replacement OS that acts, looks and feels nearly like XP and is guaranteed to look the same way for another decade. I think I could just about convert them to Win7, but that gains only another 6 years before it also goes out of support. I see no chance of getting the olds to cope with Win8 - it looks far too different.
    It is no problem if OS updates make quite fundamental changes under the hood, but on top it should look as though nothing has changed. This is exactly the opposite of what software developers impose: they are always changing the eye candy.
    I have looked at some Linux distributions, and some might be close enough to XP in style to be a substitute, but the Linux developers seem even worse at maintaining consistency of appearance over time. Ubuntu's idea of long-term support is only 5 years, and it has changed visual appearance repeatedly over the last two years.
    Does anyone know of a way to make Win8 look and behave like XP, or know of another OS whose developers promise not to change the appearance over a really long time? (For Win8 to "behave like XP" means, at a minimum, that it must be virtually impossible to get to the tiled interface, there needs to be a traditional Start menu with shutdown, and the word processor must look familiar - no ribbon.)
    I keep thinking that in another couple of decades I will need a similar solution for myself.

  18. #13
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    Thank you. What a pleasure and unexpected surprise to see someone who uses practical experience and who does not live in unnecessary fear.

    I'm an IT Mgr with experience in all aspects of computing since 1987.

    "There is absolutely NO reason to upgrade to anything else, for 'folks' of that age, as long as you can keep that old PC running."

    I'd make one change to that: from "for folks of that age" to "for anyone".

    Only the techie minded and tech gullible want to see interface changes. Everyone else - everyone else - just wants to use their computers with as little fuss as possible.

    The value of computer use in the programs, not the Windows or Mac or Linux OS or interface.

    "Microsoft Support" - now there's an oxymoron if I ever heard one!

    I shut off Windows Update about 8 years ago, along with all software updates except under a few conditions:

    1) There is a software bug that has - already - bothered me or my users, and there is a patch that Susan Bradley approves of. Then I test it before patching. Patches are just software that may or may not have bugs of their own.

    2) There is an improvement included in the update that I really really want, and is free.

    3) Somethng forces me to do the patch, such as: "This software requires the use of xxx to run" (Which I think should be a criminal offense in most cases. ex: Java, .NET, and Silverlight - but that's a rant of its own.)

    New versions of OS's often make perfectly good software obsolete - even from the same OS vendor. This is done to increase profits. Why else would the newest Windows versions not like to run old versions of MS Office? It's all BS, and, I hate to be rude, but they do it because so many people are gullible. If the shoe fits, wear it.

    One exception to my "don't update" rant is anti-virus software. Although it is sold by pumping up unnecessary fear, it is good to have a fairly recent version of FREE AV software. Keeping the "definitions" updated daily is mandatory. Paying for the extra bells and whistles is wasted money. I happen to use AVG from 2010, and I read that Avast and others are pretty good also.

    In general, almost all new OS and software "upgrades" are sold by scaring the bejeebers out of people.

    Anyone interested enough in their computers to read Windows Secrets should stop living in fear. Take some precautions, especially in your behavior, and enjoy life.

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  20. #14
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    Hardware longevity maybe a problem for old OSes. OS 'life' is infinite (a virtual life) but hardware has limited life. And virtual life needs a 'matching hardware' to function (aka a soul attached to a body).
    I suggest a modern hardware just one step behind (to make sure it has no problem). In this case, Win7, rather than Win8. If you are venturous, go Linux.
    Then virtualize the old OSes. Running old OSes in virtulization solves aging hardware problem, and extend the useful life of old Oses and their applications (which we call apps nowadays and are called programs in old days).

    Virtualization may not be for everyone. Maybe a deep learning curve. Win7+Virtual-XP is at least a start.

  21. #15
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaisson View Post
    Hardware longevity maybe a problem for old OSes. OS 'life' is infinite (a virtual life) but hardware has limited life. And virtual life needs a 'matching hardware' to function (aka a soul attached to a body).
    I suggest a modern hardware just one step behind (to make sure it has no problem). In this case, Win7, rather than Win8. If you are venturous, go Linux.
    Then virtualize the old OSes. Running old OSes in virtulization solves aging hardware problem, and extend the useful life of old Oses and their applications (which we call apps nowadays and are called programs in old days).

    Virtualization may not be for everyone. Maybe a deep learning curve. Win7+Virtual-XP is at least a start.
    Or, using Virtual Box, Linux might provide its own contribution to safety when operating a no longer supported operating system as a Virtual Machine. At least Linux won't get infected from the now insecure guest OS. Can't say as much for Win 7.
    -- Bob Primak --

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