Where can you find a PC running Windows 7?

Where can you find a PC running Windows 7?

Summary: Some of my readers are complaining that they want to avoid Windows 8, but they can't find Windows 7 PCs. Really? I just surveyed the market and found plenty of Windows 7 choices. The secret is knowing where to look.


One comment I’ve heard repeatedly from readers lately relates to their frustration at finding Windows 7 PCs. They're part of the vocal minority that wants to skip Windows 8, but they're not having a lot of luck finding their preferred OS.

This comment, from the Talkback section of a recent post, is typical: "After Windows 8 came out, a Windows 7 desktop became nearly as hard as a Lost Dutchman Mine to find."

Uh, no.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons Windows 8 was slow out of the starting gate last October was that so few PCs designed for Windows 8 were shipping. Some of the most interesting designs, including models built around the newer Intel Atom chips, like the HP Envy X2, were months late in arriving. Microsoft’s own Surface with Windows 8 Pro wasn’t available until more than 100 days after Windows 8 went on sale.

The number of choices for Windows 8 PCs has increased steadily since then, but you can still find a Windows 7 PC if you want one. In fact, you have plenty of choices, and you will continue to have choices for a long time — at least until October 2014, more than 18 months from today. You just need to look in the right places. (Spoiler alert: Stores that cater to businesses will be your best bet.)

First, let’s put to rest the conspiracy theories that Microsoft is forcing PC makers to stop selling Windows 7.

That’s not true. Microsoft has a clearly delineated sales lifecycle for Windows, which I first wrote about back in 2010 (see “XP in 2020? Not even close. Read the fine print...”). Under those rules, OEMs can continue to sell Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs alongside one another.

This came up last summer after Windows 8 was released to manufacturing. What I wrote in “How to skip Windows 8 and continue using Windows 7” last summer still applies. Here’s the relevant part from that post:

Furthermore, you’ll still be able to buy Windows 7 PCs for at least two more years. Microsoft’s sales lifecycle for Windows (which is different from its support lifecycle) specifies that retailers will be able to sell the boxed version of Windows 7 until at least October 25, 2013, and OEMs can sell PCs with Windows 7 pre-loaded until October 25, 2014.

If Windows 8 gets any pushback from consumers and small businesses, we could see big OEMs continuing to offer Windows 7 as an option on its non-touch-enabled PCs for two more years, with Windows 8 as the default option for tablets and touch-enabled PCs. [emphasis added]

Now, please note that this is not unusual. It is not evidence of the failure of Windows 8. It is, rather, a reflection that at any given time, Microsoft is supporting three or four versions of Windows. The new operating system goes on the flashy new hardware aimed at consumers. Business buyers typically get to buy hardware that’s a bit more staid and solid, running an older, more established version. Windows XP played the role of Long Term Support version for a long time. Windows 7 is now taking over that spot, mostly for businesses.

And there’s the number-one rule to follow when searching for a Windows 7 PC: Start your search in places that sell to businesses.

New PCs at your favorite retail outlets are mostly aimed at consumers and have been designed for use with Windows 8. That’s especially true for new models with touchscreens.

But if you go to business-focused stores, especially online, you’ll find that the majority of models are still available with Windows 7. For some current designs, Windows 8 isn’t even an option.

To prove the point, I looked at four leading online PC sellers. Here’s what you’ll find if you follow in my footsteps.


Dell.com is neatly divided into Dell for Home and Dell for Work sides.

On the home side, combining laptops and desktops, I found a total of 104 different options available with Windows 8 and only 39 with Windows 7.

But visit Dell for Work and it’s a completely different story.

After you choose Desktops and Workstations or Laptops and Tablets, you’ll find a sidebar on the left side of the page where you can refine your search. One of the criteria is Operating System, where you can specify that you want to see only systems running Windows 7 or Windows 8 (or only a 64-bit OS, if that's your pleasure).


Here’s how many listings* I found when I searched those those two Dell sites earlier today:

Laptops and Tablets

Windows 7: 201

Windows 8: 99

Desktops and Workstations

Windows 7: 247

Windows 8: 141

On the business side of Dell’s operation, your Windows 7 choices outnumber Windows 8 by nearly a 2:1 ratio. You can even find a smattering of machines running FreeDOS and Linux, none of them available on the consumer side.


For as long as I can remember, HP has been in the top three PC makers, along with Dell and (recently) Lenovo.

Like Dell, HP divides its website into a Home and Home Office Store and an HP for Business shop. On both sides, you have the capability to refine your search by choosing an operating system.


On the Home and Home Office side, Windows 8 machines outnumber Windows 7 models by roughly 10 to 1, with 131 Windows 8 listings and only 12 with Windows 7.

So if you want a Windows 7 PC, go to the business shop instead and choose laptops or desktops. There, you’ll find that Windows 7 is still the champ. Here’s the count of listings* I found:

Laptops, Tablets, and Notebooks

Windows 7: 60

Windows 8: 26

Desktops and All-in-ones

Windows 7: 60

Windows 8: 17

On that side of the house, you’ll find roughly three Windows 7 options for every one running Windows 8 — just as you’d expect.


This Chinese PC giant has grown tremendously in recent years and is now battling to take over the top spot in PC shipments from HP.

The company’s web site isn’t as easy to navigate as HP and Dell’s, at least not in terms of clearly demarcating between PCs for work and those for home. And although there’s a filter for operating systems, the option for Windows 7 is grayed out and unavailable. So does that mean you can’t get a Windows 7 PC from Lenovo?

Nope. I went to the Help me choose tool, where I was able to narrow choices from Lenovo’s enormous selection. After I had winnowed down the list, I found an option to filter by operating system.

Applying that filter using the Home Office and Small Business options gave me a selection of 40 PCs running Windows 7 and 58 machines with Windows 8 preinstalled. Here's one example: a good-looking all-in-one, built around a current Intel Ivy Bridge CPU:


Lenovo appears to have embraced Windows 8 more aggressively than any of its rivals, but there are still plenty of Windows 7 options available, especially in the legendary ThinkPad line.


These guys aren’t in the top five PC vendors worldwide, but they still have a cult following.

Toshiba is almost all about laptops, notebooks, and tablets. (Their Business desktops page contains a grand total of four all-in-one models, all running Windows 8.)

But give the company credit for making it easy to find Windows 7 machines. Their website has a dedicated “Looking for Windows 7?” page with no fewer than 32 choices.


That’s a decent number, although it’s only about a third of the number of Windows 8 choices available (94).

You can repeat this exercise for your favorite brands, and you can try the same thing at retail shops. If the brand or shop targets businesses, I predict it will have plenty of Windows 7 options. And, of course, you can get any local system builder to put together a custom desktop PC with your choice of parts, running your favorite operating system, even Windows XP. Many local shops even offer custom notebook builds.

So please don’t tell me you can’t find a Windows 7 PC. They’re out there.

* A note about “listings.” The actual number of different models from any of these merchants is smaller than the number of listings returned by a search. Many listings are variations of the same basic PC design, including preconfigured “fast ship” models that don’t require customization. But my spot check showed that the number of discrete models available was proportionate to the count of listings.

Topics: PCs, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Toshiba, Windows 8

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Windows 8 is the worst Windows OS in Microsoft history!

    Just because Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7 doesnt make it better. The GUI is the thing that is making Windows 8 unsucessful! Especially the two interfaces slapped on top of each other in Windows . For an example, when you click on the wireless icon, a metro like style sidebar comes up. When you click on the user accounts in the control panel, it opens metro up. The design elements in Windows 8 are horribly inconsistant and are a mess! Some Windows 7 drivers don't work in Windows 8 as well! The login screen is additionallu the ugliest thing I have ever seen as well, it looks like when Windows is put in safe mode! I think Windows 7 is better in design and ease of use compared to Windows 8! Aero is alot nicer than the matte Windows borders as well. The matte Windows 8 borders look cheesy and awful! The metro screen has no use for desktop users and no better advantage either. I think Microsoft should have kept with the desktop, start button and menu and created just a Microsoft tablet.
    Pollo Pazzo
    • And?

      Metro is getting more ingrained in Windows 8.1. You'll see more Metro in more places. Problem?
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • That would be a miracle

        Given the sales numbers so far, but hey…yes, cool, whatever…
        • Problem?

          Yes problem.

          Are you really that dense.
          • I assume

            You are not answering to my post, or maybe you are talking with yourself, or just maybe...I do not understand you because I am so dense :P
          • Don't assume

            Did you say "Problem?" or did our 'genius' shill up above you say it?

            But if you want to join his Dense Club, no problemo. Just say the word.
          • I would join anything

            But that is beyond the point…when did I say “problem”? Are you guys on another parallel thread/universe or something?

            The only “problem” discussion I see is below (then again we mentioned the word so many times that we have our own “problem” thread here too).

            Anyway, if by “problem” you mean: if I think that Microsoft is going to have a problem because of their crpy Metro infested OS, yes they will have, for sure.

            Not so much at the moment though because people are still buying Windows 7.

            But the good times are definitely over, they are losing market at all fronts and if they continue like that they are going to lose the business market to.

            I think that is definitely a problem.
          • Actually

            There is no evidence Windows is loosing market share on the desktop, quite the opposite really. I know, you for some reason, are hell bent for that to happen, because after all, if you think it sucks, so must everyone else.
          • When did I say...

            Windows and desktop? I said Windows 8 doesn’t sell, but Windows 7 covers for that so in theory they break even.

            But the “all metro” strategy has done nothing to revive Microsoft’s fortunes and the future does not look bright going down that path and abandoning the business. If Microsoft keeps producing toy-OSes from now on, I (and some other people) will start looking at alternative, more professional solutions.
          • You can't go much higher

            when your at 91% of the market.
          • Actually I know what “the problem is”

            The shill in the second post above said that, then you replied to my post…you are confusing me m8… :)
      • lol it's not happening.

        Anyone that has Win 8 comes to me to get rid of it. Instead of having them work with it by installing 3rd party crap i just install Win 7 for them. Sometimes i'll have them return the laptop/desktop and build one for myself (that depends on whether they really like the hardware itself and not the software).

        Win 8 will be much harder to find because soon businesses will see that Win 7 still sells better then 8 so they'll simply stop keeping Win 8 stocked. PC vendors are already giving customers options.
        • Really?

          You tell people to shell out $100+ for a copy of windows 7 because you are too stupid to figure out how the start menu works? And who are these "Anyone"s that keep buying computers that they don't want? Where can I find these idiots? I want to rip them off on support like you do.
          • You are really dense man!

            You are really dense man!
            Man not be as dense as this retard "Ed Bottom" or what!
            Sam Kumar
        • Just the opposite

          All the people that I have set new computers up for have purchased Windows 8 laptops and desktops. Once I showed them how things worked, it took about 5 minutes with the most dense one, and they were off. I never even bothered to show them Stardock or any of the other Start Menu replacement tools. Had they asked I would have shown them but once they were shown how the OS worked, they were fine with it.
          • And you have foiled MSFT again..

            By having them buy Windows 7 instead. By Microsoft. Clever.
        • Question

          So, spineshank155, you say you can change an operating system?? More info please. My dh has a brand new computer and HAAAAAATTTTES the windows 8 and wants to get a new computer and just eat the cost of this one. Ouch!
          What does it take to change an os???
          Thanks for any info!
      • "Problem"

        Only for Microsoft, nothing will chase end users into the competitors arms quicker then W8.
        • "Problem" Solved

          I'm with a startup that's seriously considering getting into PC building. The CEO despises Windows 8 and is barely able to tolerate Windows 7. The reason he keeps Win7 around is because of Maya, 3Ds Max, and the Unity 4 Engine which are important to the games development division. Everything else we do can be done on Mac or Linux. The suggested plan is to start a custom PC division to build Ubuntu and/or Linux Mint systems. We'd stick to a few standardized builds instead of the quantity over quality approach made by other PC builders.

          So, in the not too distant future Mystic Island Computers could join the ranks of System76 and Zareason.
          • See you in the unemployment line.

            Hopefully you didn't invest your 401k in that company.