After I used Windows 10 as my primary OS for many months, I realised that I wouldn't miss anything about it if I went back to Windows 7. And since I found that everything was more difficult, more frustrating, more ugly, and more time-consuming on Windows 10, I went back to Windows 7 as my primary OS. Windows 10 made the detail of just having an OS a chore and liability all on its own, whereas Windows 7 is just passively there, like an OS should be, and just works for whatever I decide to do, without any of the barriers, talk-back, and convolution of Windows 10.
This post's sections include:
1) General Windows 7, Windows 10 user experience comparison
2) Gaming and application-wise
3) The modern Microsoft factor
4) My conclusion
General Windows 7, Windows 10 user experience comparison:
These are many of the reasons why I found Windows 7 to be a much more sophisticated, smartly-designed, and user-friendly OS than Windows 10:
Windows 7 has a more useful and efficient start-menu design, that takes up less screen space, and requires less mouse travel distance to get to what you want. Pinning applications to a space-efficient list directly above the start button is a lot more space-smart, and functionally-useful than the live-tiles design in Windows 10.
Windows 7 has an intelligent Windows Update set of choices, whereas in Windows 10, unless you edit Group Policies, you have basically no choice. The choice to defer updates is not useful, since deferring them still causes the same ambiguous and random update process to automatically occur, just a couple of months later. There isn't even a choice for how long to defer them. Also, with the Anniversary Update, Microsoft has reduced the availability of Group Policy options in Windows 10, a move which certainly wasn't done to be of any service to Windows 10 Pro license owners.
Customizing file-associations in Windows 7 is straight-forward, while in Windows 10 it can be a repeating arm-wrestle with the OS, as sometimes Win 10 resets the file associations you've changed, and sometimes the ability to change file-associations "bugs," and it doesn't let it be changed, or doesn't list the application you want and doesn't provide any means to add the application you want to use to the list (such as to use Chrome to open URLs from offline, non-browser text).
Windows 10's UI isn't very aesthetic to many people, and Windows 7's UI feels a lot more comfortable to me. Windows 10's UI can be changed to some extent, using programs like Startisback, Classic Shell, or Start 10, and Aero Glass.
Windows 10's data-collection is invasive, and it isn't straight-forward to turn it off. Microsoft has made effort to spread the settings for various aspects of data-collection in many different places, to make it challenging for a person to find them all and disable them all. And extra efforts may be required to put a more thorough stop to MS' collection of your data, such as those described in the link in my signature. Don't presume that just because you turned off telemetry and data-collection during the Win 10 installation process that you got it all. You'll find more data-collection settings in individual MS apps that need turning off in them after the OS has completed installation.
Windows 10 has so far tended to often require users to redo their OS customization work with new big updates, which can have the magical ability to reset things back to the way MS wants them to be. For that reason, and because of data-collection, and because of file-association challenges, Windows 10 is not a user-friendly OS. It's a for-Microsoft OS, that a user might have to struggle with quite a bit to get the way they want, and to keep it the way they want. It's rather abusive, in this.
In Windows 10, there are in-OS ads, which is something Windows 7 doesn't have. Does anyone want to see advertisement in their personal space? I don't.
In Windows 10, Windows Defender is a nuisance, unless it is permanently disables in Group Policy Editor, and all system warning notifications are disabled (otherwise Windows 10 will constantly bother the user to re-enable Windows Defender).
Windows 10 has (lots of) bugs, and while new versions and patches fix some, they also often create new ones, sometimes major ones. Windows 7 has been generally bug-free (or, few enough that I haven't encountered any since its release).
Microsoft uses Windows 10 to pester users about whatever random thing they want to happen:
I feel that the best thing I've found about Windows 10 is that after setting everything up the way that I'd like it, it functions pretty much like Windows 7, with the only differences being worse on Windows 10 than in Windows 7. But, since it takes more work to set up than Windows 7, and since it takes work to keep Windows 10 set up the way I want it to be (since Microsoft's Win 10 updates seems to cause people's Windows 10 configurations to reset arbitrarily), I can't see why I would go with the OS that takes ongoing work to be good, rather than the OS that is simply good from the start.
Areas in which I've discovered Windows 7 to be more configurable than Windows 10 include: Windows Updates, system restarting, the Group Policy editor, removing default apps, configuring what the default apps for file-types are, disabling background data-collection, account permissions, reliability, and visual customization.
Gaming and Application-wise:
There are no tangible performance differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10 in non DirectX 12 games and applications. While I haven't looked at benchmarks on the subject in a long time, last I saw, some games will perform better in one Windows OS compared to another, but, on average, across a large selection of games, Windows 7, 8, and 10 all perform within ~1 FPS of each other, with the two overall fastest Windows OSes being Windows 8, then Windows 7, with Windows 10 coming in last for performance in non DX12 games.
On my dual-boot system, Windows 7 is the OS that's lighter on system resources, using only 13% RAM at idle, compared with 15% RAM-usage at idle in Win 10 (Anniversary Update version).
Compatibility-wise, Windows 7 has better support for a larger amount of games and applications, having been the main gaming OS for a very long time, and continuing to be the OS with the largest market share. Because of this, Windows 7 also has a lot more community guides, fixes, and other materials to get games and applications to run on it, then does any other OS.
Windows 7 is a more stable and reliable OS in general than Windows 10, and Windows 7 doesn't interfere with online gaming by automatically updating and sharing data, such as can occur in Windows 10, for whatever MS app and service wants to do that. There are more options available to Windows 7 owners, to ensure that there won't be any automatic updates while they're playing their games, and Windows 7 doesn't cloud-share OS updates to other Windows owners, which Windows 10 does, unless a person disables it.
Windows 7 doesn't have directX 12, but it does have Vulkan, which accomplishes the same low-level hardware communication that improves application performance, and Windows 7 in Vulkan is just as good as Windows 10 in DX12. I think that Vulkan is more likely to become the industry standard than DX12, as it is available for all Windows, Linux, and more, OSes, whereas DX12 is only available in Windows 10. As Valve has expressed, there doesn't seem to be much point in making a game DX12, when making it Vulkan will make it accessible cross-platform.
Also, there doesn't currently seem to be any benefit for Nvidia cards in DX12, with Nvidia GPUs typically losing performance when running DX12 modes, compared to their performances while in DX11 mode. Because of this, and because of Vulkan's availability on previous Windows OSes, I think that Windows 10's DX12 has nothing to offer Nvidia GPU owners.
Windows 10 has a lot of problems right now, and Microsoft, with their new QA strategy (having laid off most of their testing engineers), has, so far, been unable to stay on top of them. I would avoid Windows 10 just for that reason. But there are other issues with Windows 10 that make it not the most sound OS for gaming, whatever a person is looking to do with it.
The modern Microsoft factor:
In the last 3 years, Microsoft has fired around 20,000 employees (many of whom were testing engineers), has changed management, has rearranged internal development and testing structures, has completely shifted business strategies away from software-first to monetization-first, and as a result, is no longer capable of quality product design, or of producing competent software releases. As ridiculous as things seemed to be under Ballmer, Microsoft is a not the same company today, for the worse, and Windows is not the same product anymore, also for the worse. The new Microsoft didn't design and develop the Windows IP, and has simply inherited the Windows IP, and is now just looking for how they can exploit and prostitute every cranny of it. It's just like when a pharmaceutical company buys the rights for a drug that they didn't research or develop, and then jacks the price up by 5000%. Or, it's like when a big publisher buys a developer of a popular game, and turns their game into a dumbed-down, overly-generic version of its previous form.
Currently, Windows 10 is probably the most buggy OS Microsoft has released since Windows ME, and each new major Win 10 update brings as many new bugs as it fixes. I think that Windows 10 simply is not a professional OS. It's like an indie-dev's prototype that never solidifies into anything great, but just morphs from one bloated and troubled presentation to another. Also, Win 10 is littered with "bugs" that are intentional, to keep people using MS services - things like issues with changing default apps away from MS ones. If a program starts doing that on a person's PC, it's called malware. And it's not different when Microsoft does it, through Windows. I think that it is fair to classify Windows 10 as malware, especially since it installed itself on so many PC systems without permission. And malware to be cleaned from a system.
I think that Windows 10 is not a professional OS, and many businesses agree, and see Windows 10 as a debacle to be avoided, with nothing to be gained over previous versions of Windows, but rather the liabilities of it being a perpetual beta OS, filled with a bunch of consumer crapware and half-baked phone/mobile apps that have no business on a PC. The redesign of Microsoft QA has led to the current situation where accepting Windows updates can actually be more of a liability than not updating Windows:
January 2016: Windows 10 default programs keep changing
Microsoft's immense degradation of its programming and design quality has continued into 2018, with major updates causing a variety of serious issues for Windows owners, and patches meant to address serious security flaws actually making the flaws worse, and in some cases bricking a system's BIOS.
January 2018: Windows 10 will not start/boot after windows update
March 2018: Total Meltdown?
October 2018: HP users report BSOD after Tuesday patch
April 2020 edit: Haven't been keeping tabs on the updates for a bit, but be assured that in 2020 the situation is still the same: Windows 10 KB4549951 update fails to install, deletes files, disables microphones, camera & USB ports, shuts down defender & causes other issues, including BSODs, Bluetooth and WiFi issues, random system crashes
Here's an article looking at what some of the changes have been to Microsoft's style of testing. August 2014: Why did Microsoft lay off 'Programmatic testers'?
With Microsoft having halved the number of their OS testing engineers, there were bound to be differences between traditional Windows QA and modern Windows QA results:
July 2014: Microsoft cuts 18,000 jobs
July 2016: Microsoft to cut about 2,850 more jobs
Today's Windows is not the Windows we are familiar with, and today's Microsoft is not the Microsoft we are familiar with. I think that both of those things, in their modern forms, are shit.
And, in both my opinion, and experience with using Windows 10 since its release, using Windows 10 is sort of like walking through a minefield, in that you never know when something is going to screw something up, or even everything up, but you know that there are issues lying in wait to go off, all over the place. And every so often, sometimes frequently, something happens to create frustration, and requires work, sometimes a lot of work, to get sorted out.
Windows 10 is a hyper-invasive, user-fighting, buggy, perpetual beta/demo version of Windows, that is ad-supported, and which is a constant chore and headache to keep set up, and to get it to do what a user wants it to.
On the other hand, Windows 7, at least up until June / July 2015, behaves like it is the full version of Windows, which just works, obeys the user, and doesn't collect a user's data for resale to make MS money, and doesn't try to trick the user at every turn, or even at all.
In my view, Windows 10 is a snake-oil OS, and many people are merely caught up in a sentiment they have of Windows 10 being new and the future, and they just want to ride that fluffy feeling while shutting down their minds completely.
Meanwhile, the I find reality to be that Windows 10 has less useful functionality than Windows 7, is a lot less stable and reliable than Windows 7, is less user-friendly than Windows 7, offers a PC admin less control than Windows 7, is more invasive than Windows 7, has in-OS ads which Windows 7 doesn't, has an excess of bloatware pre-installed while Windows 7 doesn't, and constantly resets customised file-associations to force people into using MS applications, which Windows 7 doesn't do.
Confessions of a former Microsoft programmer: