Free software group attacks Windows 7 'sins'

Among them, says FSF: Taking away privacy, strong-arming into unwanted upgrades

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) on Wednesday launched a campaign against Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows 7 operating system, calling it "treacherous computing" that stealthily takes away rights from users.

At the Web site Windows7Sins.org, the Boston-based FSF lists the seven "sins" that proprietary software such as Windows 7 commits against computer users.

They include: Poisoning education, locking in users, abusing standards such as OpenDocument Format (ODF), leveraging monopolistic behavior, threatening user security, enforcing Digital Rights Management (DRM) at the request of entertainment companies concerned about movie and music piracy, and invading your privacy.

"Windows, for some time now, has really been a DRM platform, restricting you from making copies of digital files," said executive director Peter Brown.

And if Microsoft's Trusted Computing technology were fully implemented the way the company would like, the vendor would have "malicious and really complete control over your computer."

The result is that Microsoft could do things like Amazon.com, which last month went into customers' Kindle e-readers and deleted illegally-sold copies of novels such as George Orwell's 1984, he said.

"This is treacherous computing," Brown said.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The group, best-known for overseeing the General Public License (GPL) used by most open-source software, including Linux, will hold a rally at noon in Boston Common, where it will unveil a 12-foot-tall art installation depicting Windows 7 "being trashed," Brown said.

The group is also sending a letter (available at the group's Web site) to top executives at Fortune 500 companies that argues their companies would benefit ethically, technically and, in the long-term, financially, from switching away from Windows and Microsoft Office to free alternatives such as Linux and OpenOffice.org.

Founded in the mid-1980s by hacker-activist Richard Stallman, the FSF argues that free software and source code is a moral right.

It takes pains to distinguish itself from the open-source movement, which advocates sharing of source code but tolerates charging for software.

Both groups, however, view proprietary software vendors such as Microsoft, Adobe Systems Inc., and Apple Inc. as the enemy, Brown said.

Even with DRM, users running Windows PCs still maintain more freedom and privacy than those who foolishly use cloud computing services such as Google Docs and store their data there.

"That is the ultimate giving-away of your freedom," he said. "That's not a software freedom issue, it's a stupidity issue."

While Brown acknowledges that many Fortune 500 companies base their businesses around proprietary business models similar to Microsoft, he also points out that most of them, at least regarding software, are more consumer than vendor.

"Large corporations spend an awful lot of money on software. They face numerous software audits and more vendor lock-in than you or me," Brown said. "Do you think they would rather be driving on a freeway, or always be paying on toll roads?"

"I'm not expecting an instant wave of companies switching off XP to Linux," he said. "But we would like get that debate going. Hopefully, some will re-evaluate and say no to Windows 7."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourceMicrosoftWindows 7FSF

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Budget

TerraCycle Zero Waste Box Pens and Markers Small

Learn more >

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?