back to article 'Evil' Windows 7 campaign goes global

The Free Software Foundation's Windows 7 sins campaign goes global next week, with letters to 500 of the world's charities and non-governmental organizations. Letters will encourage organizations to use the introduction of Windows 7 by Microsoft in October as an opportunity to review their use of Windows and evaluate open- …


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  1. Gaz Davidson

    Attempting to run before you can crawl

    Rather than campaigning to replace the OS, FSF should just encourage businesses to plan for the future, take steps today that give the option of escaping Windows at some future date.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    499 of Fortune 500 Companies

    "The letters follow last month's inaugural mail shot sent to 499 US companies listed in the Fortune 500 also encouraging them to use the introduction of Windows 7 to check out open source."

    Was the one company they omitted based in Redmond, per chance? :-)

  3. viet 1

    Fanboism, round 2.

    I sense this story will lead to another 150+ messages mud-slinging war. Well, let's go !

    1) This campaign is silly ; not because of the message, but because of the targets choice : F500 companies first is stupid, because I'm sure even Microsoft runs some linux distros somewhere, just to be aware of the competition. Others likely do too. The ball is already in their hands, and if they were likely to switch, that would be already done. NGOs and Edu 2nd is even sillier if possible, in the optic of fund raising, for those "non-economical" groups are unlikely to spill cash in support of another cause than their own. The prime targets for a switching / primary adoption of linux and FOSS are SMBs and government agencies, obviously.

    2) This said, switching is possible ; as a proof, the french gendarmerie (a kind of police forces) did switch to FOSS. And they are not the brightest bulbs in the billboard, so to speak. This is a huge, very corporate structure. As far as I know, they were not disturbed in the least by the change, because most their desktop space was adorned with wallpapers and custom icons that were switched as well on the new system. Thus, their usual look and feel was preserved. Do this favour to your workers, replace "MS-Word" by "Wordprocessor" under the icon of every desktop, and if/when you switch, nobody will get lost. Bonus, you're not paid to run an advertising machine for microsoft, why would you display their brand ?

    3) I'm not in IT. At all. Nonetheless, I run linux as my desktop, and I've been doing so since 1998. It's a question of responsibility. In 1998, I had to compile my kernel and do much voodoo to get things working. Hopefully, it wasn't any more complicated than launching a DOS game after tweaking config.sys with EDIT to set up memory split between LOW, UMB, EMS and XMS on a per-application basis. Any gamer worth his salt was doing that in those days. The slackware INSTALL file was comprehensive, and as far as I know, still is. Being older and wiser, whenever I need some hardware, I enquire first on linux support via google. Today, I'm pretty much confident that I can put *any* mainstream linux distro in my computer and get things running in half an hour. KDE 4.3 is all I expect a modern desktop to be. It just works.

    4) I said, to me, running linux was a responsible choice. I trade in paralegal. What I do deals with records. My clients are entitled that in 30 years, I'm still able to print what I'm doing today. With windows versions of Office being slightly incompatible between revisions (to the point where even simple documents can and do fail to open correctly within 10 years), and the fact that many windows products require some kind of activation (preventing usage, and there's absolutely no warranty I will be entitled to activate a product in 30 years), the hassle of converting all my previous files to newer formats as versions come and go, just to keep current, is simply not manageable. On the other hand, FOSS file formats are either plain-text, human readable, documented, or at the very least, contained within the code. This gives me confidence that whatever happens, my data are always readable. Now, to wrap up my thinking, the FSF should target the legal department of the companies instead of CEOs. If their lawyers were aware of the risk, in term of liability, of not being able to produce some required documents on notice, I'm dead sure they'd lobby the board to death to get everybody on linux ASAP. I'm sure the cost of liability would offset the cost of porting business apps, with change to spare.

  4. gollux

    Can we have a TIA campaign from the same group?

    The Seven Lamenesses of Linux?

    Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty good OS, but it kind of stops there...

  5. Ged
    Thumb Down

    Low point

    A very low point for the FSF, I've lost any last piecesof respect I had left for them since RMS decided to become insane and blow the rest.

    A bit of a laughing stock now, which is a shame

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    OK I've got to ask

    Which was the single company in the Fortune500 that they didn't contact?

    Did they think there was absolutely no chance of them reading it?

  7. deegee
    Thumb Down

    Not again... :-/

    "Free" software is great... except when the programmer needs to pay his mortgage or buy groceries...

    And most of the "7 sins" on the FSF web site range from stretching the truth to outright lies.

    But what bugs me the most about people like these, is that the free software movement is full of hypocrites -- probably 80%+ of the professional software developers who work in their spare time on the "free software" (such as Linux distros), are working during the day for pay at companies that sell "closed" software.

    If all software were free, thousands of companies would be gone, and millions of employees would be out of work and sitting on pogey, being a financial burden for everyone else in the economy. Talk about destroying an entire industry in one fell swoop.

    I think everything in the world should be free... we'll all just joins hands and share everything... nobody will work for money...

  8. mrweekender
    Thumb Up

    I agree....

    ....I think any network admin should review his/her licensing but not just because Win 7 is out. I am implementing Open Office 3.1 in January after a significant amount of testing. It will save us nearly £20,000 in the first year, which we are going to move over into our main staff training budget.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    If you can't stand the heat...

    ... so, the FSF method of "competing" is to "cry foul" over the dominant player in the market - the 800lb gorilla in the room as it were.

    Forget about innovation, marketing, good business sense, hard work, organisation, co-operation - lets just gun for the big successful guy and cry because he won't share his toys.

    Don't bother to take a leaf from the Mozilla foundations book, who successfully make significant inroads into the Microsoft browser share by innovation and canny marketing, thereby proving how it can be done without whining.

    Ignore the fact that Apple became a dominant player into computing through other routes, or that Linux has made significant inpact on the mobile market.

    Nope, lets just keep playing the same old tired tune "Microsoft don't play fair"

    Of course they don't, it's the real world - it's *business* - it's cut-throat, competitve and downright nasty out there.

    I have *zero* sympathy for this organisation and in fact, would rather cheer Microsoft on - a company who has balls of steel.

    As for the Free Software Foundation - pathetic, totally pathetic.

  10. Graham Marsden

    Please repunctuate your title.

    It should be "Evil Windows 7" Campaign, because the current title reads as if it's the "Windows 7 Campaign" that's "evil", rather than Windows 7 itselt being "evil"

  11. Dirty Devil

    Just the one?

    IMHO Linux and free OS and software in general represent everything you could want for proprietary installations (as in for netbooks) or specialist (as in for science processing), but beyond this they represent a poor expedience for home multimedia and gamer use, except as a second OS (good for secure, quick web browsing). Just my 2 cent.

  12. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
    Thumb Down


    I'm fairly platform agnostic, I know M$ (and Apple for that matter!) is evil but heck, windows exists, it exists in vast numbers of installations ergo I have to know about it, so guess what? I'm gonna have to buy a copy.

  13. Seán


    Looks like a job for Glen Beck.

  14. Bod
    Thumb Down

    Socialist claptrap if you ask me

    I'm all for open source where it has it's place and/or where the developers are not interested in making a profit, but FSF's aims are to get everyone to use GPL licences which would destroy most companies who make money from software.

    GPL is not what I call "Free" anyway in terms of licensing. It's just as restrictive for developers. Personally I believe the real meaning of Free they don't like to admit is as in Freetard. Bunch of people who believe everyone should share the software for free. Sounds great, but how do you run a business on "free"?

    If a business wants to use open source software, that's their decision. If they want to use pay software, including Windows 7, then that's their decision.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    499 of 500 companies

    The other one being MS themselves, I assume!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Open source is great for development environments, but getting the lowest common denominator to be able to use linux, as well as have all of their programs work is impossible(WINE is a great fanboy gimmick, but let's be honest, most programs still fail). Leave linux to the pros, let idiots (err.. i mean.. "end users") use Windows 7. Someone with no tech background will inevitably screw up a linux install in less then a week, and turn the IT department into a full-time linux training team.

  17. RMartin

    Got to be kidding

    "its a civil liberties movement" - reeeealy?

    Oh, and if you are going to try and sell people on open source, you might want to avoid the cluster**** that is OLPC. Just a thought.

  18. Paul Hates Handles
    Jobs Horns


    HAIL SATAN! \o/

  19. Andy 97

    A voice in the wilderness

    You can really imagine the C.I.O of BAT or Hailburton thinking seriously about this can't you.

    Maybe if the schools all had open source as standard, things would change in - say fifteen years.

  20. Jason Bloomberg

    What is Users' Control ?

    "Brown said it's important that tools used in education should be open and under the users' control".

    I'm not entirely sure what he means by "under the users' control"; it sounds good - as most selling and marketing does - but how does that measure up in practice ?

    The apparent selling point of open software is that anyone can change it if they wish, but it's not as simple as that. If changes are folded into a release app, it may be no more than pointless bloat for others, if not included there's the nightmare of re-integration when a new release of the core comes along. If the app becomes forked to satisfy two markets it is likely to soon end up diverging.

    I did run into an "under the users' control" issue with XP; that won't run OE 5, only the included OE 6, so I "lost control" of what I wanted to do ( don't ask ! ). Arguably with open source I could just download and run the version of an app I wanted to, retain that control, but if API's change or binary compatibility breaks, it's 'get the compiler and toolchain out', but we're talking "users" here, not developers, and for most "users", open means you can look and have your eyes glaze over; almost none will have the knowledge or skills to alter source, so hard to see what "control" they are gaining.

    Perhaps Brown ( or someone ) needs to explain, because I cannot see how to buy into the message.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    get a life

    Until some other alternative to windows on the desktop exists that can (easily and without a degree in computer science or using vi - the most counter intuitive tool on the planet - on a gazillion text files) do the following there will be no competition and no alternative to windows:

    * Act as part of an active directory domain and obey group policy

    * run all the apps that companies have developed over the years

    * run all that software that companies have paid a lot of money to licence

    * be easy enough to manage and support that a windoze admin can do it

    * be easy enough to support that helpdesk people for it are as cheap as the windows ones are

    * have a groupware app that is as good as exchange - and to paraphrase the latest Golf adverts, why have something that's like exchange when you can have exchange.

    * be consistent in its approach so that an app which runs on one 'flavour' has a fair chance of running on another

  22. Anonymous Coward

    The title is too long.

    "Children who are interested in becoming programmers… should be encouraged into that literacy of interacting with their computers."

    What? I thought the idea was genraly imporving access to learning, not creating an army of linex devs in the third world.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again

    I've heard this one before. It went something like "you will install PCs running Windows in schools because we want our children to be ready for the outside world".

    Installing brand X, Y or Z computer or operating system doesn't matter as long as whatever you are installing does the job it is meant to do. A computer in a schoolroom isn't necessarily put there to teach a child programming. It's more commonly there to act as a teaching aid for any number of subjects, the majority of them having little to do with what you might use a computer for in the outside world since, by the time a child has grown, the world will have changed.

    So does this make Windows 7 evil? Not necessarily. Does this make open source any better? Again, not necessarily. This has nothing to do with what is better but has plenty to do with the fact that people making decisions on what we use have little grasp of what is needed in order to really teach our young.

    While we are about it, what is the point of teaching our young all the ins and outs of IT, whichever branch, when the industry is all too keen to reward those that put in the effort to learn with ever increasing barriers to actual work? The IT industry is still one of the hardest to get into, with employer bigotry contributing to an ever increasing number of people on the scrap heap either because they are too young to have the experience (which they can't get if they don't work) or they are too old to employ because they have the wrong experience (or whatever the latest excuse is).

  24. Michael 28

    Actually makes good sense for a large company to evaluate Linux distro's.... after all, if your suppliers of software go... er ... "nonproductive" , at least you know what filetypes,etc are supported in the alternative . Any company big enough to run a server should do this , and have it as part of their "Disaster Management " plan!!

    Flames, as the aircon in the server room is a bit dodgy

  25. RMartin

    @AC Hogwash

    Some beautiful quotes "...getting the lowest common denominator to be able to use linux..." and "...let idiots (err.. i mean.. "end users") use Windows 7" - and to think that some people have the sheer effrontery to say that the Linux crowd are elitist. Why, the very idea!

    Good luck ever getting beyond 0.1% market share lads! And please don't think that translates into the 0.1% smartest most attractive people on the planet, because I've seen some of them, and its not that kind of 0.1% believe me.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. vincent himpe

    kids learning to program

    Using the Sugarlabs stuff ?

    Run for the hills ( or a cave or abandoned missile silo ) the world is coming to an end.

    What has the world become.. Java sipping codemonkeys that don't know whether to use SJMP or LJMP to get their ass out of a wet paper bag.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @Mr Weak Ender

    Why not just install Mac's and make it a totally crap system??!!

  29. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    @Oliver JOnes

    So you mark of a desktop O/S is no need for command line ever....

    So why do ALL versions of Windows still have a command line available then? Why do I occasionally see my fellow Windows admins scripting on command line when they have jobs to get done both server and desktop Windows versions? So by your logic, let's dump OSX ( has a command line despite being well hidden from the Kharki-crowd ), Windows, Linux obviously, BSD any Unix derivative. So that will leave us with iPhone OSX, Mobile Windows and Android then! Oh and Atari ST GEM desktop we can keep, don't think that had a command line!

    Personally I don't give a toss what people use, if you like it and you're happy then use it, if not then find something that does make you happy!

  30. Steve Coffman
    Thumb Down

    They obviously don't understand educational needs...

    In the K-12 arena at least, none of the creators of curriculum (you know, the guys that write the actual textbooks that students use) develop software that goes along with the curriculum other than for Windows based PC's and the Mac. Using an emulator like WINE on Linux just doesn't cut it... if it doesn't work or there are technical problems, you are not going to get any support from the developer what so ever if you're not running it on a native OS. So promoting an open source OS for use in education just doesn't make sense....

  31. zshazz

    @Oliver Jones

    I'm not sure what Linux distro you're using, but it's exceedingly rare to have to "vi" a system file (actually, I prefer nano for its simplicity) unless you're repairing a serious problem (which would be "reinstall time" on Windows) 95% of the time, gedit (or equivalent GUI text editor) is sufficient. Heck, even serious problems could be fixed through a GUI as long as you have a Live CD around. Again, not much you can do for the Windows install except reinstall it. Or maybe taking the hard drive out of your computer and putting it in another to use a GUI is less obtrusive to you? (Hint: the easy answer is to say "Oh, you could just use a Linux Live CD to fix the Windows problem ... oh... damn.")

    Also, the only time you "type commands on the shell" is when it greatly simplifies the task... e.g., would it be better to tell a user to:

    A. "Open up Configuration Editor, then go into your apps, then you need to open up metacity, then you need to find the 'compositing manager' and check JUST THAT. Be careful not to check anything else unless you know what you're doing, because you might mess something up."


    B. "Paste the following snippet in a terminal, and you're set."

    I think the answer is obvious. Generally speaking though, full system control is available through GUI apps, just fine...

  32. northern monkey

    @Oliver Jones

    Firstly, users shouldn't have access to system files. They generally don't on linux - only on windows does such a heinous thing happen.

    Secondly, you may find this hard to believe but people *like* using shell based text editors, it's faster and there's no need for anything else really (it is *text* after all!). There is absolutely nothing I cannot achieve using the magic of emacs or vi.

    Thirdly people like using the command line (see above) - it's sometimes far far easier to achieve something using the command line than anything gui based. If it involves lots of flags, etc, either alias it or wrap it up in a script. Of course the joy of linux is that there are so many free (as in opensource, not that 30 day free trial click a button everytime you start it paypal me crap) development tools that one can write their own gui around it.

    You, Sir, are an eejit - sometimes I just want to return to the days when everyone using computers really needed to know what they were doing. These days the sheer stupidity and poor coding writing skills (in languages that detach you so far from the machine they might as well be logo) of some people frightens me.

  33. northern monkey


    "poor coding writing skills"

    obviously that was meant to be poor coding skills (or poor code writing skills) but due to my poor English writing skills it got muddled.

  34. h4rm0ny
    Paris Hilton

    Bad FSF! No contract!

    I'm of the opinion that if your Linux O/S comes pre-installed or is handled by your IT department the way that Windows normally is, then it's ready for regular users who see computers as a tool not a project. I'm also of the opinion that for *a lot* of software needs, the equivalents to MS based applications are available (OpenOffice being fine for *most* people's needs). Thirdly, I am also of the opinion that the commoditization of software is (barring social catastrophe), inevitable and that trying to hold that off for the sake of a particular business model is, long-term, doomed.

    So what do I think of the FSF's mailshot and campaign? Stupid, dishonest and damaging to the general perception of GNU/Linux and Free Software in general. Half of their points are stretched and distorted to levels that can only be called dishonest, one of their points is pretty much an outright lie, few of their points are ones that a Fortune 500 company is really going to care about, and the overall presentation and marketing of their campaign is horribly, awfully childish.

    I have lost a lot of respect for the FSF with this campaign. They've taken the old adage about "he who fights monsters" and just said: 'fine with us'. Paris, because her fake election campaign was more convincing than this is (and less offensive to the eyes than that website).

  35. Bod

    @northern monkey

    *Some* people like shell based text editors. *Some* people like using the command line. etc.

    Vast majority of the population wouldn't have a clue where to start and educating them won't help. They are idiots when it comes to computers, and that is not meant to put them down, it's a fact and we should embrace that. Why on earth should they need to grow a beard and step into sandals just to use their computer?

    Computers should be easy to use. Windows (like it or lump it) is easy to use for the majority compared to Linux. Yes, yes, I know linux is probably easier to use *for you*, but you aren't the majority audience.

    Oliver is right. The instant Mr.Idiot is told to open up some text editor to do this and that, you've lost him and he's off looking for another solution.

    Not that linux can't cater for Mr.Idiot. It's just it's still a long way off doing so. The example of how to do it right is OS X. i.e. wrap cotton wool around the UI to protect Mr. Idiot and prevent him from ever needing to fire up a text editor or command prompt. But then Apple have such tight control they can be sure everything will work without the need for fiddling about. Fiddling about is the usual experience with linux desktop unless your distribution is Uber-Idiot proof and 100% targeted for exactly the same hardware you have got (netbook distributions are a positive step forward here), and you never want to install anything other than official distribution releases (else you're into a world of pain, especially if the software is not packaged for your distribution, it's driver related and your kernel doesn't have parts required and you need to, good god... recompile the kernel! Users SHOULD NOT *EVER* need to go near a compiler. End of!).

    Oh, and the system file issue has a degree of resolution on Windows, more so in Vista/Win7 but even in XP it's had for a long time a means of protecting (or at least reversing) changes to critical files (and not just talking about System Restore). It just doesn't apply to all the other junk installed!

    And finally, most of the open source products available to linux are also available to Windows (and OS X). I use a vast amount of open source of my own free will, on Windows, along with some commercial software that I prefer. Because I *choose* to do so, not because FSF and the like tell me I should.

  36. viet 1


    It shouldn't be needed to answer this kind of mail, but for the sake of straightening facts, it looks like it's necessary.

    It's been now a long time since a CLI hasn't been mandatory to setup any mainstream linux distribution. GUI tools do exist and work. Does it entail that the CLI ought to be removed ? Has it been removed in MacOS X ? Hell no ! OS X proudly has a virtual terminal and fires up tcsh ! Has it been removed from Windows ? Hell No ! Windows went as far as releasing a NEW CLI for windows a couple of years ago.

    Why do mainstream OS *all* have a CLI ? Because it is faster, it is better, it gives control. It's not a *sin* linux have a CLI.

    The difference between MacOS and Windows on the one hand, and Linux and other OS (Solaris, BSD et al.) on the other hand lies in the way help is given to the users.

    While Microsoft and Apple favour the GUI in their generic explanations, with loads of screenshots to make their point, most of the time, in linux realm, help is given on a specific question, and as it is much more personalised and targeted to the real problem the user is facing, it's impossible for the person giving that help to build an /ad hoc/ walkthrough with pictures. Hence, a cut-and-paste script is the fastest way to accurately answer the question.

    That's because unless you pay the most expensive support contract from MS or Apple, you can't have a tailored solution to your actual problems, you must rely on canned answers to any question you have.

    This may lead to a false impression the CLI is required, but this is a fallacy. And it borders deception when heralded over and over again by MS schills, regardless of countless accounts that their belief is WRONG.

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