There's another side to Windows 8, although Microsoft doesn't talk about it much. It's the grown-up side.
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Have Windows 8? Here's how to turn it into Windows 7+ (without the childish junk) -- at no cost

January 4, 2015

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2015, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2015, The Post-Standard

Regular readers need no coaxing to recite my opinion of the Tinker Toy aspect of Windows 8: It's dreadful. Childish. An insult. A disaster.

There's another side to Windows 8, although Microsoft doesn't talk about it much. It's the grown-up side. It works and even looks like Windows 7, the version of Windows that even beats the Mac in many ways.

I call this semi-hidden portion "Windows 7+." For most of us who use regular desktop or laptop PCs, "Windows 7+" is surely the only part of Windows 8 we need. (The child-like part of Windows 8 was designed for Microsoft's big fat bomb, the "Surface" tablet, and should have been given a proper burial.)

The design of Windows 8 was so bad that Microsoft rushed out a so-called "fix" that it called Windows 8.1, but this only made it more obvious that something dreadful was wrong. Microsoft then decided it had an unsolvable image problem: Windows 8 was so bad that the number itself needed to be purged from memory.

Since "7" indicates a version of Windows that actually exists, and because the number "8" itself would banned outright if only Microsoft could recall every calculator ever made, the only option left was to get rid of the next number up the chain. So it banished the number "9" forever and lost no time telling the world that everything would get better soon.

Yeah, right. It's a good thing Microsoft didn't say it was selling us a bridge. The rule in cases like this is as old as time itself: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. "Better" means yet another uncertain version of Windows, called Windows 10. Knowing Microsoft, I'm sure Windows 10 is likely to be followed by Windows 12 quicker than you can say "What happened to 11?"

So sticking with Windows means not drinking Microsoft's Kool-Aid. If you're using Windows 8 or 8.1 and don't want Windows 7 -- the last unsullied version of the operating system, as we know now -- schedule a rescue mission: Free the prisoner stuck in the Windows 8 jail. Get "Windows 7+" out into the open and keep it there.

Do this without paying a cent. Install Classic Shell, from www.classicshell.net. It performs a Windowsectomy on Win 8 and 8.1 to keep the silly side out of the way. The way my ASUS laptop is set up with Classic Shell, I never see a sign of Windows 8 unless I hold down the Shift key and press the Windows key -- something I can't imagine ever wanting to do.

Classic Shell has many other options, but all of them pale before the feeling of joy that comes from booting up your Windows 8 PC and actually seeing Windows show up. (A word to the wise guys who are yelling at me right now: I do indeed know that Windows 8.1 lets you make the serious side of Windows easier to get at, but it doesn't keep it out of the way like Classic Shell does. Now go back to your X Boxes.)

When I said Classic Shell is free, I left out something. It's donationware. Free is OK, but if you like it a lot, send the author a few bucks. The instructions are at the website.

Write to Al Fasoldt at afasoldt@gmail.com. You can read any of Al's thousands of past columns at www.technofileonline.com.