Free Software Foundation trashes Windows 7

The advocacy group is encouraging businesses to throw out their Microsoft software in favor of open-source alternatives.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

There's nothing like trashing the competition.

The Free Software Foundation is using the launch of Windows 7 to try to convince businesses to dump Windows in favor of an open-source operating system. Free Software Foundation

And that's exactly what the Free Software Foundation plans to do on Wednesday, staging a demonstration in Boston where it will encourage businesses to throw away Microsoft Windows in favor of free alternatives.

In addition to the public display, the foundation is sending letters to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, warning that Windows is a threat to their businesses' privacy, security, and freedom.

Although the demonstration and letter center around Microsoft's imminent release of Windows 7, Free Software Foundation Executive Director Peter Brown says the protest has to do with Microsoft's approach in general and not with the specifics of Windows 7.

"Any time Microsoft tries to push them to a new version, it's a good time to make that case," Brown said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

With Windows 7 getting fairly positive reviews, Brown said he knows it could be tougher to garner public support than was the case with the oft-criticized Vista.

"There's kind of this attitude of 'Well, it's better than Vista,'" Brown said, "so we are kind of working against the grain."

But, he said, the stakes are high--and it's about more than just which operating system gains market share. Brown points to Amazon.com's recent deletion of e-books from the Kindle as an example of the kinds of action that could become commonplace if the world becomes more filled with digital rights management technologies.

"That's the kind of power that proprietary software gives to these corporations," he said. "When we give that power, sooner or later somebody comes knocking, whether it is the government or the corporations themselves. Free software is kind of the answer to that."

Although the letter focuses on Microsoft, he said the group is also concerned with other products, including the new Snow Leopard operating system from Apple, which goes on sale on Friday.

"It's not just Microsoft," Brown said. "It's a problem generally for society that we should accept proprietary software when there is an alternative."