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As an engineering student, I'm forced to use Windows for certain software, including SolidWorks, MATLAB, and Ansys Mechanical. Unfortunately, Windows is a truly terrible operating system that works against the user in every way possible. Here is a collection of things that I do to make it a little bit more usable.

Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC

I use Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC which is the long-term support version of Windows that gets no feature updates, and doesn't include as much advertising via the start menu, Microsoft Store, etc. It feels more like the classic Windows experience.

Windows 10 is still well supported as of writing, and Windows 11 offers me no benefits besides an even less coherent UI and new dialogs to learn.

Microsoft Activation Scripts

Paying $100+ for Windows and Office is unreasonable, so I use these scripts to activate it for free.

Adding Back Microsoft Store

Unfortunately some apps I need are only downloadable via the Microsoft Store, which is not included in Windows 10 LTSC, so to add it back, you can follow the instructions published in this MakeUsOf article.

Removing Spyware

Even Windows LTSC still ships with user-monitoring and spyware built into the operating system, so I use O&O ShutUp10++ to remove most of it.

X-Mouse Control

Most unix systems have a setting called "focus follows mouse" where the window under the mouse is brought to focus so you can, for example, quickly alternate entering text between two windows just by hovering your mouse over the one you want to use. Windows has something similar to this feature, however it also raises the requested window to the top, which takes away much of the convinience of traditional focus follows mouse behaviour.

X-Mouse Control is an open-source application that you only need to run once to set Windows to behave with this traditional behaviour.


Windows lacks native automation and good key remapping support. AutoHotkey replaces some of this functionality, allowing you to remap keys, script GUI actions, and more. The language it uses is a bit of a hot mess, and for key remapping it isn't as smooth as in Linux (remapping doesn't work in privileged programs, it doesn't run immediately after boot), however it bridges the gap well enough.

I use it to enable my Colemak-DH keymap, and to remap caps/control/escape.

Windows Terminal and WSL

The open-source Windows Terminal app is a great terminal that allows use of PowerShell, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Command Prompt, and other shells all in a single app. I use it primarily to access WSL so whenever I open a terminal, I am working in my native Linux environment, in which I am much more comfortable. Recent versions of PowerShell are actually quite good, however I just haven't had the time to learn it and I value having consistency between my systems and using the same interface on all my computers.

Last updated on 2024-01-16