Keep Win10 at bay: GWX Control Panel

Sticking with Windows 7 or 8.1, at least for now? Here are the free apps you need to keep your PC running right.

It’s been nearly two years since we surveyed the best free programs for Windows desktops. Much has happened since then -- most notably the advent of Windows 10 and the explosion of tremendously useful applications and services in the cloud.

With Windows 7 and 8.1 usageGWX still dwarfing Win10 usage, it’s clear that many of you have begged off Microsoft’s Win10 siren call, feeling fine with what you have.

If you’re one of the many sticking with Windows 7 or 8.1 for the foreseeable future, you should take a look at the following free-for-personal-use (and cheap-for-corporate-use) apps. I guarantee you’ll find more than a handful of them that are well worth the effort. They may even be enough to tide you over until Microsoft pries Windows 7 from your cold, dead keyboard.

If you wanted Windows 10, you would’ve installed it by now. Microsoft is pushing all the buttons, trying to get you to move from Win7/8.1 to Win10. Some people aren’t ready yet -- or may never be.

Enter Josh Mayfield and his wondrous Win10 blocker, GWX Control Panel. GWX is Microsoft-speak for the Get Windows 10 campaign, and GWX Control Panel knocks out the Get Windows 10 icon in your system tray, down near the time. It prevents the regularly scheduled GWX programs from rejiggering your system. It deletes all of the data that Microsoft may have stuck in hidden folders on your machine. And it simply prevents the Win10 installer from running.

GWX now has a Monitor Mode, and if you're using that, GWX Control Panel runs itself frequently. If you aren't using Monitor Mode, simply rerun the program from time to time, especially anytime you install anything from Microsoft.

It’s free for everyone.