Open Source

Free Software Foundation cites Windows 7 'sins'

The Free Software Foundation has started a new campaign, "Windows 7 Sins." Is it FUD or is it Truth?

I came across a site the other day, Windows 7 Sins, created by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to raise awareness of how Microsoft is committing "sins" against the public by perpetuating the "poison" that is proprietary software. The "sins" the FSF claim Microsoft is committing are:

  • Poisoning education
  • Invading privacy
  • Monopolistic behavior
  • Lock-in
  • Abusing standards
  • Enforcing DRM
  • Threatening user security

I see why the FSF is trying to make the parallel with the "seven deadly sins." In theory (and in practice) I completely agree with them. The only problem I am having with this is that it seems (at least from my perspective) that this campaign is no better than the FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) that Microsoft throws around day in and day out. The last thing the FSF needs is a FUD-driven campaign.

Or is it?

This reminds me of presidential campaigns where you think you've finally found a presidential hopeful that will not stoop to muckraking, only to find out that eventually even the best lower themselves to gain an extra vote. For the longest time open source and the FSF have refrained from tossing around FUD in the hopes of toppling Microsoft. It was always "take the higher road" and "don't stoop to their level." Well, that never really worked. Finally I think the FSF has realized that the public (at least the American public) only truly responds to negativity. You want to be showered with positive attention? Spray your competition with negativity. Make them look worse than you.

And whether the public knows it or not, this FUD that the FSF is spouting is actually true. Look at the list. You can take that list one-by-one and realize that the FSF is, at least, being honest. But I do think the FSF is missing a big opportunity here. After the shakedown of MS is all said and done, the biggest benefit they spout for open source software is:

"Free software operating systems like GNU/Linux can do the same jobs as Windows, but they encourage users to share, modify, and study the software as much as they want. This makes using a free software operating system the best way for users to escape Microsoft and avoid becoming victims of these seven sins."

I'm pretty sure the majority of users of PCs could care less about sharing, modifying, and studying the software. They do, however, care about two very important issues that could easily be powerful selling points:

  • It's free
  • It reliable
Free is the key here. And I'm not talking the usual open source credo "...as in beer." (Which I never really understood anyway, because beer isn't free.) Most users don't know there are free alternatives out there. And that is what the FSF should be doing. If there is to be an advertisement campaign it should include the information that shows the user there are free, reliable alternatives to costly, proprietary solutions.

Maybe after this campaign dies away the FSF should fire up a new campaign called "The 7 Virtues of Open Source Software." This would be a high-road tactic that the majority of the rubber necking public may not bother to read. But there will be a portion of the public that will see it and it will give them pause to consider open source alternatives.

I personally think the FSF can (and should) do better than muckraking and FUD. Soon Microsoft users are going to have to pay for the mistake that was Vista with an improved version of Vista (Windows 7). Maybe it's time the FSF reminded the public how they seem to allow themselves to get the shaft from a company that should be able to get an operating system right the first time around.

As much as I hate it, I have to agree that it's time for the FSF to toss down the gauntlet and show the public what has been happening to them and their PCs over the years.  I have been griping about Microsoft and their FUD for years. But now it might be time to fight fire with fire. My only request to the FSF is that the FUD be the truth; and, so far, the "7 sins of Windows" is all truth.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

31 comments
1bn0
1bn0

MIcrosofts SINS as listed are accurate and documented. Hoewever the essay immediatley blames them on the proprietary software. He's got that backwards. The SINS Microsoft commits are soley intended to maintain there Monopoly. Making there software proprietary is also intended to maintain there monopoly. So the SINS (and crimes) are committed to maintain the monopoly of their proprietary software, as is the drug dealer marketing It is not "the ""poison"" that is proprietary software" that these issues reflect, or even the poison that is Windows but simply the poison that is Microsoft.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

From the linked FSF article: "1. Poisoning education: Today, most children whose education involves computers are being taught to use one company's product: Microsoft's." MS products are the workplace uses. Why waste my tax dollars teaching applications no one is going to use? This is like complaining about the model of car the driver's ed class uses. There's a reason why they don't teach manual transmissions any more; the majority don't use them. "3. Monopoly behavior: Nearly every computer purchased has Windows pre-installed -- but not by choice. Microsoft dictates requirements to hardware vendors, who will not offer PCs without Windows installed on them, despite many people asking for them." Okay, this one is flat out wrong. Vendors have offered PCs with Linux several times. The open source community lauded Dell for it's Linux offerings last year. The sales sucked. Why should vendors sell something people don't want? Incidentally, why isn't Apple attacked for its proprietary approach? "4. Lock-in: Microsoft regularly attempts to force updates on its users, by removing support for older versions of Windows and Office, and by inflating hardware requirements. For many people, this means having to throw away working computers just because they don't meet the unnecessary requirements for the new Windows versions." If you're happy with your current computer, OS, and apps, you can keep running it. MS doesn't force you to upgrade. You must upgrade only if you want to run an app that requires a new OS. Odds are if your old computer won't run the latest version of Windows, it probably won't run that hot new app either. Sure, support is discontinued for older versions. You can't expect to walk into an auto parts store and get support forever either. Just because support is discontinued doesn't mean your computer will stop working. Oh, and Linux distros and OSS apps get abandoned too. "5. Abusing standards: Microsoft has attempted to block free standardization of document formats, because standards like OpenDocument Format would threaten the control they have now over users via proprietary Word formats." We're back to the issue of 'official standards' vs. 'de facto standards'. In the workplace, MS formats are the working standard. This battle is effectively over; accept it. "6. Enforcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM): With Windows Media Player, Microsoft works in collusion with the big media companies to build restrictions on copying and playing media into their operating system." Yeah, let's just ignore that the media companies are within their legal rights to request those restrictions. "7. Threatening user security: Windows has a long history of security vulnerabilities, enabling the spread of viruses and allowing remote users to take over people's computers for use in spam-sending botnets." Yes, MS has a questionable security record. But where is any mention of those who exploit those vulnerabilities, perpetrate viruses, take control, and trigger the spam? They bear as much responsibility for these problems than MS.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Think about it. They turn on their computer and maybe log on. Then they look for the Internet or a Spreadsheet program, or Photoshop or a Game. They use the applications. Windows is just a place to get there. They are familiar with Windows as a place to get there. They just want it to be easy and within their budget. Just my opinion.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Frankly, I've heard this same bs my entire life. Once either side starts with the FUD or muck racking I just lose all interest in the subject. It's the same with nvidia vs ati and intel vs amd. I just no longer care enough to even pick a side. I'll just use what I feel is the best solution for my personal or business needs after doing proper research and move on. It always moves from intelligent debate to fan boys from both sides flaming each other like monkeys at the zoo flinging poop at each other. I just don't even want to hear it once one side starts preaching about microsoft being evil, apple being over priced and full of zealousness or the other side starts preaching about linux being super geeks living in their mother's basement. Sooner or later it comes down to some guy bashing some other guy or group for using their os of choice. That's ridiculous. It should be all about choice, without all the personal insults because you use something different than the next person. This movement is no different, lots of FUD and mud slinging. It is simply a group of people baiting flaming responses. There are organizations out there that push open source ideas to people, governments and enterprise willing to listen, without resorting to FUD. This isn't an example.

don3605
don3605

I bought a copy of XP Pro oem four years ago for $75 on EBay. That works out to less than $20 per year, dirt cheap. Most people use Windows because: 1) it came on their computer. 2) they use it at work and are comfortable with it. 3) it is actually pretty easy to use. If there is demand, oems will install it, but the demand has to come first. The run from CD downloads are a very good idea in that people can try it out and make sure all of their hardware works with it before destroying their "normal" operating system install. Use at work is a big issue. Until there clients for serious business applications such as MRP (high and low end), ERP, CAD (high and low end), and accounting applications there will not be much traction in the business world. These applications are mission critical and deal breakers also not easy to change to a different product, so do not expect companies to change willingly. Easy to use. With windows, you download a program, click on it, the installer launches and everything is taken care of from there. Many people do not even change the default install directory. I went to download a music and video player that I have a number of files for. It had a linux version that came as a .bin file. What the fazoo do I do with a bin? I looked in the help section about installing bin files... nada. There needs to be a way to install programs that is painless especially since I have seen many different extensions on programs for download. This should probably be done by the distro as part of the OS. If a program is supported by your distro, things couldn't be easier and support is included, so you are always kept up to date. If it is not supported by your distro, good luck. Just my two cents worth.

Mich-a-billy
Mich-a-billy

Microsoft couldn't persuade the public in general to purchase Vista, and had to start forcing it on to new P.C. Dell charges $150 extra to purchase machines with XP instead of Vista. I haven't see any evidence that Windows 7 is much better that Vista. I use vista on a laptop at work, and to be honest, there are parts of my daily job I cannot do with vista, such as connect to NAT'ed IP addresses. I connect to these address fine with Windows XP. I don't think this campaign will ever reach much of the general public because most of them tune out technical documents. A television campaign may be more productive for them. I think, most windows user don't care their computers are infested with virus, malware, or trojans until their computers are so infested they cannot use it anymore. Then they want some-one to spend hours fixing it for free. I have an Unix Server (Sun Solaris x86 version) behind a firewall, and I have had very little trouble with it, and to this day, I haven't had one virus, malware, or trojan on the machine. I have persuaded a couple of people into buying Macs, and they have told me that they love their Mac. I haven't had one of the new Mac users report any problems with their machines. I think MAC has the edge on taking business away from Micro$oft. Bryan.

bmullan
bmullan

in this economy... cost is the bottom line for just about everyone. if Windows 7 costs more - money - time (time is money) - new/upgrade of apps (more money) - upgrade to PC's -- more money than converting to something else it will lose I think the biggest fear Microsoft has is cloud technology making the Desktop OS more irrelevant. If everything can be done "on the web" then as long as ANY machine (netbook, thinclient, pc or OLD pcs) has a Browser... I can get my work done or do what I want to do. In that environment... Microsoft has lost the one thing it prizes -- control of the desktop

FrignFragr
FrignFragr

Many (most) will not care because they are unaware of the "sins" and the alternatives.

james.hyde
james.hyde

Sins? Let the OS manufacturer without them cast the first stone! How many people in the past have skipped CPU generations...? Plenty. Microsoft hasn't really arrived at the next 64bit platform yet. Win 7 (my experience) is quite stable and will help to tide over the migration of those holding off until we arrive at the successor to Win 7. Snow Leopard is no less migratory and infrastructure building. Quad-core is now becoming the norm on new systems, 2 TB+ drives, 8 GB+ RAM, etc. Add yet unseen techno-gadgets to connect, and the OS's are forced to keep up, let alone try and innovate. This industry is a constantly moving target.

tech10171968
tech10171968

Think about it: how many times have Microsoft-powered machines been infected with the latest virus, trojan, keylogger or other malware; or have been assimilated like the Borg into some world-wide botnet? How many man-hours have been wasted on maintenance routines which should never have been a worry in a superior and efficient OS? How many users have noticed the increasing amounts of horsepower needed to run each successive version of Windows (isn't anyone tired of having to purchase a new machine every 2 to 4 years)? Most of all, how many are weary of the fact that you have to actually *pay* for the privilege of such a "wonderful" experience (in this case, "wonderful" meaning "I wonder what the heck I was thinking")? Despite all of this being the norm in Windows for the past 20 or so years people are still going to keep their Windows-centric mindsets, and we know it. Most of these same people have no idea that alternatives even exist but, even if they were clued in, lots of them seemingly would rather deal with the Devil they know.

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland

After using Windows 7 I will say that it is far beyond Vista and is quite possibly the best thing out of Redmond in a good long while, but to imply that there are no such problems in Linux is like claiming Macs cannot get viruses. Just because an OS is free, doesnt mean it is problem free. while many choose to attack Microsoft, they do it not for the cost of the software, but for the install base. Microsoft still has the biggest market share. Giving the best chance for success. To attack linux and not Windows with malware might be like advertising a new product during the golden girls versus the super bowl and hoping to out pace the sales of those who put an ad in the big game.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

his one good idea. Richard Stallman from Orator to Orifice...

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

if they did, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

ricardoc
ricardoc

1. "MS products are the workplace uses. Why waste my tax dollars teaching applications no one is going to use?" I think it is the other way around. MS products is what is mostly used at workplace perhaps because that's the only thing being taught at school. In terms of Education your tax dollars are wasted in many more unusably ways. Wouldn't you like that your kids be taught the many options for OS and computers that exist and let them choose what they prefer? Furthermore, I believe that if that was the case other operating systems had more presence at the workplace. 3. No argument here. PC sales with Linux pre-installed on them sucks and those business are out there to make money. No one wants to keep a product that a few are willing to buy. You're right, demand must be created. 4. Hmmm... your analogy with a car let me thinking about my uncle who came from a third world country two months ago to visit its relatives in Florida. He has an old 1954 Chevrolet and it has been park in his garage for 5 years after some parts broke down. So he went to a Chevrolet dealer and asked for the parts. Four out of seven where available, the other three arrived in a week after direct order to the factory. Pretty good for a 52 years old car, huh? And you are right, Linux distros are abandoned too. But the difference is that the user never paid a dime for it. 5. Well "de facto standards" are "de facto" thanks to MS over presence. The fact that MS Office 2007 formats changed distancing themselves from the standards even more prove this "sin". And what users are suppose to do? Throw away they office suites and lose all that money they already spent? That's a way of blocking standardization by force. 6. Yeah, the media companies have their rights, but it happens that those rights conflicts with my consumer rights. To use your car analogy (it seems that cars are the preferred subject for analogies in this forum) when you buy one, you're not restricted to use it only in the cities, or on the highways, or to transport only passengers, etc. You can rip apart the car and assembly another as long as safety regulations are followed. Bottom line: I paid my royalties to the media company when I paid for the media, now I have the right to reproduce it in any form or device it can be play without some protectionist law degrading the quality of the reproduction or worst preventing me from enjoying it because the device is not DRM compliant or some crap like that. The car maker does not prohibit you from running your car in the dessert because it wasn't designed for it or shut your car off when it detects that is not running on asphalt, that's your problem where you run your car, right? 7. I agree with the argument that knowing that something has a vulnerability does not give you the right to exploit it, especially for malicious purposes. I also agree that MS has to do better efforts in fixing their flaws and think less in the impact that recognizing those flaws might cause in their user base. The problem is not only the amount of security flaws, it is the length of time it takes for MS to care about fixing them, that's the rub. Thanks,

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

you know that almost ALL linux distros have a package manager, right? One of Linux's many benefits is that you don't have to "download, double click, and pray". the software on your distro's repo's are usually clean and updated regularly. I always cringe when my users say "Well, i found this program on the internet." Trusting other people is almost as dumb as trusting my users to not to download the next greatest "virus-infested click game that screws their computer over even though they only rn it once and forgot about it" Linux package management is light years beyond Windows gimped trust the source style.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

that only works with IE11 under windows 8 and all the don't cares will happily use it.

dwdino
dwdino

your concerns have been addressed. Windows 7 required less hardware to run gracefully...

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

I agree totally on folks will stay with what they know. I've been standardizing departmental proceedures and responses. The very dirty word "change" has upset many. Most want to simply do what ever they have been doing and are used to. It doesn't really matter if a "change" will bring a more stable environment or improvement of internal business. There are those that redily adopt change and find ways for them to implement what they know will be best in the long haul. Many folks will stay floating on a log in the river because the boat is too hard to climb into. I personally dislike the MS dynasty, but you better belive I must know how it all works. Looking for good alternatives is always pleasing to me; it just doesn't please those who are used to all the MS corporate strangle hold. It doesn't matter if we are talking about Operating Systems or software; if it has been in use for years, you will have those that do not want to venture out of the cocoon for any reason available. There is a reason many have fought the "ribbon" battle in Office 2007 and the inherent changes required. Some like changes to things and others would have us using the MS 3.1 GUI. I've heard and read many say, "now if only we could get all the changes and keep the look of it the same; I would jump on board right now." I guess we could all go back to DOS and make more commands and scripts. Of course; we would lose that lovely look of Vista and Win 7 if we did. Come to think of it; DOS underwent change as well. (oh well, back to the drawing board)

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

just pointed out that Windows has some serious issues, many of which go back many years.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i don't believe anyone is claiming Linux is problem free. no OS is without problems. i think, however, many of the claims being made are true. yes, Windows 7 is one of the better efforts Microsoft has put out in a while. but it still suffers from lock-down, security issues (remember we're talking about the OS not the OS with third-party software added), cost inhibiting, and more. and honestly...i think the biggest thing keeping Linux (and open source in general) from being mass-adopted is ignorance. and by ignorance i do not mean "stupidity". i mean most people simply do not know about Linux and open source. if they knew, and knew the benefits they would adopt. (and before all you gamers out their issue your war cry - the average user is not a gamer.)

LarryD4
LarryD4

20 years ago it was the opposite in education, where MAC had the lion share and not enough kids were learning how to use the apps in the businss place, which was Microsoft.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

That is why MS is king now; most just go along with what ever is on the desktop. It's a shame too because Open Source and the cloud seem to be coming up with very good alternatives.

intj-astral
intj-astral

On some levels, both camps of users benefit from the same technologies regardless of their awareness of it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

way of presenting an old one would do. I'm busy myself, but my dog is free Tuesdays and Thursdays. His idea of eating of eating the beer with the tin, didn't exactly come out nicely, but he learns....

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

Way more level headed. Should read his blog posts after the Microsoft kernel patch submission. The only sane voice from anywhere.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Not the tech as such (security, ownnership and control are big issues for me. Just that in tha normal course of business, it will end up in the nhands of a small number of meganopolies.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

thousands of dollars extra for things they do NOT need or use. BTW The game companies can just as easily write their games for playing on Linux systems as on Windows systems, or both. At one time games discs came with the option to install either the Windows version or the Linux version, and for many years if you wanted to set up a server version of some games you could only set up the server on a Linux server as the Windows server couldn't handle it. But all that was before MS started after the gaming companies.

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