Looks like I’ll need to make another big jump in word processorising in order to keep writing my diary (somewhere other than on my PC at work), as Tuesday is the day that Windows 7 (and Office 2010) pass into the clearing at the end of the path — or at least lose all hope of being patched by Micro$haft (sort-of named and shamed), unless you’re a business and can afford their fees.
(They’ll still patch Win7, but not for home users? Is that because we’re their test base for Win10, and so they want us to use that instead?)
Updating to Windows 10 isn’t a positive option — I’ve done that on the Frankencomputer at my family home in Worthing (the one upon which I installed Win7 as an experiment back in the day), and it’s just as bad as on my flock’s PCs at work — and staying on Win7 would be risky (much like WinXP when that went obsolete a few years ago), as even more bugs and backdoors may be revealed, enabling h4x0rz to extort us with ransomware, or steal our private information in a way that MS can only dream of.
Thus I’m strongly considering switching over from my May 2011 installation of Win7 (the very final aspect that lingers from May 2011 on my PC of Theseus) to a flavour of Linux, the free-at-the-point-of-use family of OSes; I’ve had the “Mint” version installed on a slow but serviceable laptop (a relic from work that they let me take home) for some time, and it seems to do all the same stuff as Windows, but (unlike Win10) doesn’t have a load of unturnoffable telemetry, and unavoidable patches that may actually screw you over — imagine if I lost my diary this way!
(Like I said: we, the home users, are their unwilling test base, so they don’t have to employ their own QA section!)
Anyway, Linux Mint — it’s an OS that stays out of the way instead of advertising and subtly installing bloatware (or limiting you to installing stuff from their quasi-Apple, quasi-Android app store), and forcing you to update with a full restart every so often… sorry, I’m still having a go at Win10 — but hey, remember my job! It has a start menu, it has desktop icons, it has shortcuts pinned to the taskbar, it runs Mozilla Firefox (I avoid Google Chrome due to its telemetry, which MS are also looking at incorporating), it lets you actually change settings without needing to go to old and new settings screens, and it runs software — and yes, it lets you put up wallpaper… in my case, ahem, anime babes.
I’m going to look at reverting to good ol’ OpenOffice — or, in terms of forking off after (diab)Oracle took over, the superior LibreOffice — since even if it’d work under Linux, Office 2010 is also on the way out (and I have no desire to do everything online through Office 365). This is something I’ll help my mother with too: her current PC of Theseus also runs Win7 (and Office 2007), but she wants to continue creating and editing proper Word documents that others can access, instead of some esoteric format, so I’ll need to prove to her that it can be done and nothing significant would change.
One aspect which my mother won’t need, but I certainly shall (still the old playboy lifestyle!), is video gaming — in particular, the Steam games library program, which among other things records your purchase licences. The good news is that it’s available for Linux, and some actual games have Linux version too… but by no means all: I see there’s Borderlands 2 but not the original, BioShock Infinite but not the first two, and neither of the Rage games I’m playing through now.
(Astonishingly, all three of the most recent generation of Tomb Raider games have Linux versions, but I already played them to death in 2018 and 2019!)
However, there’s a lot of experimentation going on at the moment, regarding the running of Windows-made programs under Linux through an emulator process called WINE, and Linux Steam itself has an option to let you install non-Linux-version games anyway — no promises of full functionality (especially in multiplayer games, though I don’t touch that side of things anyway), but I have… faith that things will improve over time, as more geeks like me (and no, I don’t find that term offensive, at least when we use it) will be ditching Windows but still wanting to use software we paid for.
I’ll look at getting a new SSD (the current one I got in late 2013, and thus one of the oldest components) onto which I can install Linux as a first step, and see whether connecting up my other two physical drives works or not. These are a yuge SSD (a 2017 work present, same as my current CPU), with my games installed, and an old “spinning rust” one with My Documents upon it, but as long as they’re detected and NTFS isn’t treated as some freaky foreign format, my only problem could be whether I need to reinstall any of my Steam games completely from scratch (which could mean a geological age of downloading), or if they just need some extras.
(And I haven’t even begun to consider the other game installer libraries, like Uplay, Origin and Battle.net — but at least Good Old Games are putting in some effort with Galaxy!)
One more aspect I wonder about, though: while I certainly should be able to play CDs and DVDs (and hopefully rip them as well), will anything available for Linux enable me to play Blu-rays (VLC apparently only works in some cases), or would I have to get an actual player to plug into my TV? When you consider the one my folks passed down to me in Worthing doesn’t play some modern discs (and its firmware can only be upgraded with a file dating back to 2011, which needs to be burned onto a very specific format of CD-R), you can’t help but wonder about planned obsolescence…