Free Software Foundation 'demands' Windows 7 be released as free software

onetheycallEric

TS Addict
Staff member

The FSF has launched the "Upcycle Windows 7" petition, and if the opening paragraph doesn't persuade Microsoft to open source Windows 7, then I don't know what will.

"On January 14th, Windows 7 reached its official 'end-of-life,' bringing an end to its updates as well as its ten years of poisoning education, invading privacy, and threatening user security. The end of Windows 7's lifecycle gives Microsoft the perfect opportunity to undo past wrongs, and to upcycle it instead," the petition reads.

Yikes. At any rate, most users probably agree that Windows 7 already undid Microsoft's past wrongs, being absolved for the sins of Windows Vista. Hey, maybe the FSF should ask for Windows Vista instead. You know, shoot for the moon and land in the stars kind of thing. Something's better than nothing.

Moving on, the FSF has demanded that Microsoft release Windows 7 as free software for the community to "study and improve." The petition goes on to cite a precedent for this in the form of Microsoft's Calculator app being on GitHub, and claims Microsoft has "nothing to lose" by releasing an operating system that has reached end of life. Except, Microsoft kind of does have something to lose.

There's still hundreds of millions of Windows 7 machines, no shortage of which are business or enterprise customers that will be paying for extended support. Microsoft offers the privilege of paid extended support for Windows 7 through January 10, 2023.

For instance, the German government will be paying Microsoft $886,000 for one year's worth of extended support for 33,000 Windows 7 machines.

Joining Germany is Ireland, as Ireland's Health Service Executive has agreed to pay Microsoft roughly €1.1M ($1.2M) in extended support fees for 2020, and will be paying for extended support though at least 2021, for no less than 46,000 Windows 7 PCs. Those are just two recent examples.

Then there's the not insignificant fact that much of the codebase in Windows 7 lives on in Windows 10. In other words, the chance of seeing Windows 7 in a GitHub repo anytime soon is unlikely, to say the least.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
And why not? If it has a large enough following and Microsoft is no longer going to profit from it, there is no reason not. Call it corporate governess or whatever you like and let groups like these continue to maintain it doesn't sound all that far fetched.
 

bviktor

TS Addict
The open source community needs to dump the elitism and innumerable egos fighting for attention and finally get behind ONE *nix for all, preferably with a solid Win32/Win64 compatibility layer. Nothing else will make an open OS relevant on the desktop and everyone knows it.
It's ruined even on the kernel level, thanks to stable_api_nonsense.txt. There's not even a driver model, per se. The driver model is that "we do whatever the f*ck we want, and you're our *****". Like why do ALL my friggin Intel DKMS drivers break whenever I upgrade to a new kernel? Every. Single. Time. Not to mention NV driver installs, oh boy. That's often a half day project.

And this is just the kernel. Then comes libc. Xorg. Mesa. GNOME. Mutter, GTK+. libwhatever. It's just an endless combination of an endless number of libraries, in endless versions (with API breaks all the time), with an endless number of random broken distro patches, compiled with an endless number of build flags, with an endless number of compiler versions with their various bugs.

And they actually expect this mess to work. They expect vendors to provide awesome driver support. They want killer apps. What the hell. Like almost all mainstream apps are moving to Flatpaks or similar measures to dodge all this cr@p, because it's completely unsustainable as it is.

And I'm not saying this as an outside hater, I'm doing Linux deployment for a living. Been releasing GUI apps for various distros (along with the proper Windows release). Been dealing with Linux for around 15 years now, both server and client side. And I'm telling you, it's a f*cking mess.
 

bviktor

TS Addict
It's a neat idea that Microsoft would never acknowledge.
There's nothing neat about it, it's just plain dumb. Why on Earth would any sane company pour millions into releasing an EOL'd OS' source code, especially upon such a hostile request. It'd take years at best.

If they want win32, they can have ReactOS, Wine, or even CrossOver. If you wanna do serious work, like Photoshop, then pay for your stuff and carry on, instead of spewing carp on your own site and expecting others to happily cooperate in return. That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works.
 

brucek

TS Guru
It doesn't need to cost them anything in labor to release it (they already have the source code package as they've needed it for those with the clout to demand it (governments) and/or pay enough for it.)

The real costs, which would be massive, are future lost revenues. There are large numbers of people who would rather use an O/S with the compatibility of Windows but without all the awful additions that exist only for Microsoft's profit, like the privacy invasions, disabled features for non-Enterprise/non-Server versions, etc etc.

If there was a truly Free version out there, it wouldn't be long before it was better than Win 10 for most people and attained critical mass such that the proprietary version would never get it back.
 

trparky

TS Evangelist
It's ruined even on the kernel level, thanks to stable_api_nonsense.txt. There's not even a driver model, per se. The driver model is that "we do whatever the f*ck we want, and you're our *****". Like why do ALL my friggin Intel DKMS drivers break whenever I upgrade to a new kernel? Every. Single. Time. Not to mention NV driver installs, oh boy. That's often a half day project.
That’s because most of the kernel code maintainers expect a company to just decide to open source their drivers and submit them to be included in the mainline kernel source tree. Their argument is that if you open source your driver and they change something in the kernel APIs the maintainers would then go ahead and fix your drivers to reflect the API changes.

This, of course, sounds good... at first. However, no sane company that has spent a whole lot of money in terms of research and development is going to do this. It would be like giving away their secret sauce or their crown jewels because as soon as the driver is open-sourced it could then be used as a way to reverse engineer what the hardware is doing and then... oh yeah, the company would no longer be making any money and that’s bad for investors that have put their money into the company that made the hardware.

This is where Windows, despite how it’s hated around here, is commercially successful. A driver that's written for Windows 7 has at least a chance of working on Windows 10. Linux? Good luck with that, you're going to need it.

So yeah, Linux being a successful mainstream OS is nothing more than a fevered dream until the Linux kernel maintainers pull their heads out of their rear ends and realize that no company is going to simply give their secrets away. At least, not one that expects to be around for a long time.
 
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Darth Shiv

TS Evangelist
Additionally, and what a lot of people fail to realize, Microsoft likely could not open source the OS even if it wanted to. There surely are portions that Microsoft licensed from other vendors and is not able to relicense.
The request was to make it free to use not to open source it.
 

brucek

TS Guru
The request was to make it free to use not to open source it.
No. From the first sentence of the Free Software Foundation's website:

"Free software developers guarantee everyone equal rights to their programs; any user can study the source code, modify it, and share the program."

That is what they are about. Free as in freedom, not free as in no cost.

If Win7 was made open source, it could be secured, modernized, enhanced, stripped of malware, and would rapidly become much superior to Windows 10.

If Win7 was made $0 cost, it would be just as useless as it is today (due to lack of security updates.)
 

m4a4

TS Evangelist
TechSpot Elite
If Win7 was made open source, it could be secured, modernized, enhanced, stripped of malware, and would rapidly become much superior to Windows 10.
Just like with Linux, where they banded together to make 1 superior Linux distro that everyone loves? /sarcasm

Lol, not a chance it would become superior to a large, paid team at MS. All that would happen if they released the source code would be fragmentation (with dozens of different groups claiming theirs is better).
Open source software is seldom better than their counterpart. And it gets even worse the more complex the task...

But, we don't need to worry about that. MS isn't going to release it. It would cost them (and their shareholders) too much...
 

coachklc

TS Rookie
The request was to make it free to use not to open source it.
Unless it was open sourced it would just continue to be Microsoft's only release that was not pure crap, though still not that good. Of they open sourced it maybe some programmers could make it more than a gold plated turd
 

azTracker1

TS Rookie
I say this as sometime who has developed software for about 25 years now and at least half of that was for Windows. Most of what I've written in the past decade has been deployed on Linux.

The request itself is bullshit. You can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Microsoft has told to create ausb installer, you enter your Windows 7 key and it just works. If you have a bios key it may work as well, should be on a sticker as well.

In any case, it isn't really end of life as a software, just that version. The natural path is to upgrade or migrate. This is a publicity stunt playing and simple.

I run Linux at home. It's better than it's every been in terms of timing on the desktop. There's still some pain though. I'd say it's nearly at parity with Windows. And this may be the time to change over if you're still running Windows, most of what you use will probably have a Linux version or work in wine.
 

Angga B

TS Enthusiast
If I am microsoft exec I would say why not. But only much later after like 90% of the win7 machines end up upgrading to win10. LMAO.