7 Lost Windows Features You Can Bring Back

Ben Stegner 08-08-2017

As Windows grows, Microsoft prunes its list of features. Whenever a major version releases, some old features get replaced by new tools 5 Legendary Windows Tools Replaced by New Features Windows includes lots of tools that you use every day, but some have lasted longer than others. Here are parts of Windows that don't exist anymore. Read More while others simply disappear.


If your favorite Windows feature dropped off recently, don’t fear — we’ll show you how to get it back. Here are seven recently-deprecated features you can re-enable or simulate in Windows 10.

1. Windows Media Center

You probably know that Windows Media Player is Microsoft’s basic audio and video player. Despite not seeing an update since Windows 7, it’s still included with Windows 10 How to Download Windows Media Player 12 for Windows 10 Windows 10 doesn't ship with Windows Media Player anymore. Here's how to install Windows Media Player for free and legally. Read More . However, the more powerful Windows Media Center — which came at a cost for Windows 8 users — was dropped for Windows 10.

Windows Media Center was useful for playing media from network locations, as well as streaming and recording live TV. Thus, many mourned its loss when Windows 10 launched.

The good news is that you can bring back an unofficial copy of Windows Media Center in Windows 10 How to Get Windows Media Center in Windows 10 & Its Limitations Windows 10 can run Windows Media Center after all. However, it is not officially supported, creating limitations, which might not make you want it in the end. Let us save you the time and explain... Read More . If you’d rather not use unsupported software, replace it with an alternative 5 Alternatives to Windows Media Center for Windows 10 Windows 10 will offer many new features, but some old favorites will be deprecated. The Windows Media Center will no longer be supported. Here are alternative media center application compatible with Windows 10 to take... Read More that’s built for the modern entertainment scene.

2. Desktop Gadgets

Remember the old gadgets you could place on your desktop in Windows 7? They provided quick utilities and information like a calculator or weather report. While many users enjoyed these, Microsoft retired them after a few years because they contained security vulnerabilities. Plus, with the launch of Windows 8 and its Modern apps, the live tiles feature all but replaced desktop gadgets.


Now, you can restore the classic desktop gadgets in Windows 10 How to Get Windows 10 Gadgets for Your Desktop Desktop gadgets were taken away in Windows 8. Here's how you can bring widgets back to your Windows 10 desktop. Read More . However, we don’t recommend you do so due to the security risks. Microsoft found that these widgets could easily be exploited by a nefarious party and weren’t easy to patch, thus they dropped support for them.

Instead, you should try the safe and much more powerful Rainmeter. This free tool provides you with dozens of ways to customize your Windows desktop, including icon packs, live wallpapers, and yes, gadgets.

We’ve written a beginner’s guide to Rainmeter A Simple Guide to Rainmeter: The Windows Desktop Customization Tool Rainmeter is the ultimate tool for customizing your Windows desktop with interactive wallpapers, desktop widgets, and more. Our simple guide will help you create your own personal desktop experience in no time. Read More , plus we’ve shown you how to create custom desktop icons How to Create Custom Windows Desktop Icons With Rainmeter Are the default Windows icons underwhelming? Here's how to create custom desktop icons with Rainmeter for free. Read More and even make your own theme How to Create a Custom Rainmeter Theme for Your Windows Desktop Rainmeter can help you create a truly spectacular desktop with just a few clicks. We'll show how you. Read More . If you put in some time, you can make your desktop look and function however you want with Rainmeter.

3. File Explorer Libraries

Libraries, introduced in Windows 7, provided a new way to manage your files 10 Little Known Features of Windows File Explorer Don’t let Windows File Explorer fool you with its plain looks. It’s capable of many more actions and tweaks than it lets on! Let us show you a bunch of them. Read More . While they were actually pretty useful if you took the time to set them up properly, they confused a lot of people. Thus, Microsoft hid them in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. They’re still available to use, though, and you can enable them in just a moment.


Open a File Explorer window, then right-click any empty space in the left shortcut pane. Click the Show libraries option and you’ll see a new Libraries header in the left sidebar. Double-click this, and you’ll see the default Documents, Pictures, and the like. To access them in their own pane, you can also type shell:Libraries into the navigation bar of any File Explorer window.

7 Lost Windows Features You Can Bring Back Windows 10 Restore Libraries

Libraries allow you to group many folders that contain similar files in the same place for easy access — check out our guide to mastering libraries Understand Windows 8 Libraries To Master Storage Space Read More for more.

4. Classic Windows 95/98 Theme and Start Menu

It’s ancient by today’s standards, but a lot of people still have nostalgia for Windows 95 Start Me Up - Windows 95 Turns 20 & Still Rocks 20 years ago the Rolling Stones cranked up "Start Me Up", and Windows 95 was born. We revisit history, discuss why Windows 95 was a big deal, and how it compares to Windows today. Read More . In past versions of Windows, you could activate a classic theme that looked a lot like the Windows 9x days. Whether you did this because you like the look or to stop wasting system resources on all the fancy eye candy 14 Ways to Make Windows 10 Faster and Improve Performance It's not hard to make Windows 10 faster. Here are several methods to improve the speed and performance of Windows 10. Read More , it’s no longer possible in Windows 10. Turning off all the special effects doesn’t add the retro theme.


Thus, you can resort to installing a theme pack to partially restore the retro look. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect copy of the original theme, as it relies on the High Contrast normally used for accessibility purposes. First, visit kizo2703’s DeviantArt page and click the Download link on the right side to grab the classic theme ZIP. Save it somewhere on your computer, then extract the contents to this folder:

C:\Windows\Resources\Ease of Access Themes

Next, open the Settings app and go to Ease of Access > High contrast. This is where Windows collects the accessibility themes. When you click in the drop-down menu, you should see the Classic entry you’ve extracted. Select it and hit Apply to coat Windows 10 in Windows 98 paint. Note that this ends up making Windows look pretty ugly.

7 Lost Windows Features You Can Bring Back Windows 10 Classic Theme

The other piece of the puzzle is getting the classic Windows 9x Start Menu back. For this, you can use the versatile Classic Shell. Install it and you can restore the old single-column Classic style Start Menu right from its settings. You can also apply the Classic Start Button to complete the look.


7 Lost Windows Features You Can Bring Back Classic Shell Classic Start Menu

If you’d rather, you can make Windows 10 look like Windows XP, 7, or 8.1 How to Make Windows 10 Look Like Windows 7 or XP Here's how to make Windows 10 look like Windows 7, Windows XP, or Windows 8 so you can restore a classic look and feel. Read More .

5. Ad-Free Games

Do you remember whittling away the hours playing Windows’ built-in games? Whether you learned to use a mouse with Solitaire Celebrating 25 Years of Microsoft Solitaire: The History, Rules & a Tournament Solitaire - the preserve of procrastinating office workers and bored housewives - is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and Microsoft is commemorating it with a group tournament. We re-visit the history and rules of the game. Read More or racked up a high score in Windows XP Pinball, you were probably sad when you realized those games aren’t around in Windows 10. Microsoft does include Solitaire with Windows 10 and offers Minesweeper on the Windows Store, but they’re crammed full of ads 5 Places to Find & Disable Ads in Windows 10 You shouldn't have to put up with advertising in your operating system. Windows 10 features a few ads and promotions. We'll show you where to find and how to get rid of them. Read More , unless you pay a ridiculous $15/year (Solitaire) or $10/year (Minesweeper) to get rid of the ads.

You don’t have to pay money to play stinking Solitaire. Unfortunately, you can’t just copy these games from a Windows 7 installation. But we’ve shown you how to restore classic Windows games on Windows 10 5 Lost Features You Can Resurrect in Windows 10 Windows 10 is quite different and chances are you're missing a few familiar features. Did you lose Windows Media Center, DVD support, or classic games during the upgrade? We may have a solution for you! Read More , which is pretty simple.

To play those games with even less effort, you can simply search Google for solitaire to access the game right on the Google search results page 8 Secret Google Search Games You Can Play Right Now Did you know Google Search has hidden games you can play? Here are the best ones you can start playing right now. Read More .

7 Lost Windows Features You Can Bring Back Google Solitaire

For Minesweeper, try the MinesweeperForFree website to play without ads.

6. Aero Glass Theme

After the solid colors of Windows XP, Microsoft introduced a translucent look for Windows Vista and Windows 7’s Taskbar and title bars. This was called Aero, and it was popular thanks to the clean aesthetic. Since Windows 8, however, Aero is gone and its replacement is plain-colored bars once more.

Thankfully, with a few tweaks, it’s not hard to get the Aero glass theme back in Windows 10 How to Get the Aero Glass Theme on Windows 10 It was one of the most requested features from Windows Insiders. Still, Microsoft decided not to add Aero Glass back to Windows 10, after removing it in Windows 8. Here's how you can get it... Read More . For a complete transformation, try making Windows 10 look more like Windows 7 overall How to Make Windows 10 Look More Like Windows 7 Windows 10 introduced many updated and the visual design wasn't spared. If you prefer the aesthetics of Windows 7, we'll show you the steps to take to mimic its user interface. Read More .

In the future, we might see a new theme known as NEON NEON Is the New Metro: How Windows 10 Will Change Its Look Windows 10 is a work-in-progress. Project NEON promises a functional and aesthetic shift towards a novel user interface. Get a sneak peak at the new design, expected to arrive with Windows 10 Redstone 3 this... Read More .

7. Group Policy Editor in Windows Home

This isn’t so much a recently released feature as one that’s flat-out missing for many users of Windows. Group Policy, if you weren’t aware, is a feature of Windows Professional and above editions that lets system administrators restrict certain features and change settings for many machines at once. That’s why the Group Policy Editor isn’t included in Home editions of Windows 10 — most regular users don’t have a need for it.

However, Group Policy has a ton of benefits 10 Ways Windows Group Policy Can Make Your PC Better Looking for cool things to do with Group Policy in Windows? Here are the most useful Group Policy settings you should try. Read More , even for home users. You can use it to lock down Windows for a child’s account How to Lock Down Windows User Accounts Here's how to lock down user accounts in Windows 10, whether you want to secure your system or keep your kids safe. Read More , for example.We share tips all the time that are much easier to adjust via Group Policy than by editing the Registry.

We share tips all the time that are much easier to adjust via Group Policy than by editing the Registry.

Thankfully, if you’re on Windows 10 Home, you don’t have to pay $99 for an upgrade to Pro. Just follow our steps for bringing the Group Policy Editor to your edition How to Access the Group Policy Editor, Even in Windows Home & Settings to Try Group Policy is a power tool that lets you access advanced system settings. We'll show you how to access it or set it up in Windows Home and 5+ powerful Group Policies to boot. Read More and you’re ready for a world of neat customizations. If you’re not sure which version of Windows 10 you have, just type About into the Start Menu and click About your PC to check.

Bonus: Microsoft Paint!

Recently, Microsoft released a list of features that it will deprecate in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, coming this autumn. The classic Microsoft Paint is on that list, leading many outlets to incorrectly state that MS Paint is “dying.” Microsoft Paint Is Dead, Long Live Paint 3D [Updated] Microsoft Paint is officially being killed off, with Microsoft deprecating the program with the release of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Rest In Peace, Microsoft Paint: 1985-2017. Read More Instead, Paint will no longer receive updates and will likely die off after several iterations of Windows into the future.

Thus, for some time, you’ll still be able to type mspaint into the Start Menu to open everyone’s favorite drawing app Adobe Photoshop vs. Microsoft Paint: What Do You Really Need? Photoshop is the go-to app for computer graphics—but should it be? There's a very compelling case that you should be using something simpler. Yes, even MS Paint. Read More for low-quality memes. Barring this, Microsoft will also release a Paint app to the Windows Store 9 Official Windows Store Apps to Replace Popular Desktop Apps If you've been wanting to try Windows Store apps, why not start with apps you know well from the desktop. Here's a beginner's selection. Read More , ensuring that it’s available for years to come.

What Windows Features Do You Miss?

We’ve shared seven beloved features that Microsoft killed off for one reason or another. Thanks to tweaks and replacements, you can get back or emulate all these without much trouble. After some time, certain features must die to make way for new ones — which is a good thing! We just wish we could get rid of the annoying features nobody needs Here Are 5 Annoying Windows Features Nobody Needs Windows is great at its core, but some features are over the top. We'd be happy to see them removed. Which Windows features would you like to get rid of? Read More .

After restoring these, take time to explore the best under-appreciated features of Windows 6 Underappreciated Features of the Windows Operating System There are plenty of Windows features you use every day, but some you might not have ever seen. Let's give these underrated tools some credit. Read More before they die off due to lack of use!

Did you miss any of the features discussed here? What old Windows feature do you wish you could bring back? Tell us down in the comments!

Image Credits: Sabelskaya/Shutterstock

Related topics: File Explorer, Start Menu, Windows 10, Windows 7.

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  1. David Brown
    November 26, 2018 at 1:25 am

    I would love to see the Microsoft Hearts game restored! It was a game you could play with 4 players across an Intranet. Seems like we would add more of them instead of dropping the one we had.

  2. Alan Trinder
    August 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I would like Microsoft to re enable the system to read all of the USB sticks and devices it used to, recognise they are there and allow access.

  3. Allan Jensen
    August 16, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    I would like to be able to run an older version of Adobe Photoshop. I had Photoshop Album, One, I think, running on my Windows 7 machine. I upgraded to Windows 10, and Photoshop One continued to work fine. Then my computer crashed, and I was forced to "reset" my computer. When I did this, Photoshop One was removed. Now I can't reload Photoshop One. I believe I've read that the data is retained when the computer is "reset," but since I can't reload the Photoshop One program, I can't see my photos--I have several thousand. In addition, the backup drive that I had them backed up on, is balking. I would therefore like to be able to have a way to reload the Photoshop One program.

  4. Greg Stratton
    August 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    I miss the ability to customize my desktop. Windows 7 had the ability to size icons, text and spacings on the desktop.

  5. David Thomas
    August 16, 2017 at 4:29 am

    Right Click Delete. Bring it BACK!!!!

  6. Bjourne
    August 16, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Thanks for the article! It was informative. I have just updated to Windows 10 and am still tinkering with it. The tips will surely go a long way!

  7. Kirk Messinger
    August 16, 2017 at 1:27 am

    I saved the original Solitaire a long time ago, and reinstall it on every Windows machine I have. It works fine in WIN10, and I even run it under WINE on my Linux machines.

    And if I could get rid of one WIN10 feature, it would be automatic updates with their attendant tendency to reset my default programs!

  8. Daniel Perez
    August 15, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I miss Windows Live Essentials Photo Gallery.

  9. Alain D
    August 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    The Macro Recorder in Windows 3.1

  10. likefunbutnot
    August 9, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Windows Easy Transfer 100% still runs and works on Windows 10, but it's not included. Ironically, you can create a disk containing the program from a Windows 7 PC and it'll work on 10 just like it would on 7 or 8.

    Old Windows screensavers (my favorite is 3dpipes.scr) can be copied from whatever Windows installation has the ones you're looking for.

    Media Player Classic is a functional clone of the Windows (95) Media Player; the one without the skins and Libraries and all the extra junk built in. The current Windows Media Player is still miraculously lightweight compared to iTunes, but the old school program is not without its charm; it's my Windows video player of choice.

    NTBackup, the terrible and obtuse NT/2000/XP backup program, is an official download from Microsoft for the horrid scenario that someone needs to recover something from a .BKF file. Godspeed, if you're actually in that position.

    Also, if you need semi-regular access to old versions of Windows and/or Internet Explorer, Microsoft has a developer site that offers fully functional virtual machines for IE8 up to preview releases of Edge. They're built on trial copies of Windows that only work for 90 days, but they're in all other ways functional Windows systems.

  11. Rob
    August 9, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Back in the day, I'm talking Windows 3.x File Manager here, you you'll put a wildcard filter on what we now call Windows Explorer.
    If I could only have one feature back, that would be it.
    To have the option to look at only a subset of files would be an enormous time saver. If I'm trying to track down a specific excel file or .dll, it would be nice to have all that other stuff out of the way.
    I can't imagine why they took this away.
    I think the third party File Explorer application will do this.

  12. Davin Peterson
    August 8, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    The old 3D Pinball game also works on Windows 10. You can also install the old calculator that Microsoft removed from Windows 10 as well as Movie Maker.

  13. Dinahmoe
    August 8, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Animated gif support in windows photo viewer. Gone since vista and no decent replacement since.

    • al young jr
      August 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      i am looking for win dvd maker in win 7 how can i get it back it was so good work great