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The FSF's statement on Windows 10

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Jul 29, 2015 05:10 PM
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, July 30, 2015 -- The Free Software Foundation urges everyone to reject Windows 10 and join us in the world of free software. Like all proprietary software, Windows 10 puts those that use it under the thumb of its owner. Free software like the GNU/Linux operating system treats users as equals and gives them control over their digital lives.

Microsoft uses draconian laws to prevent anyone from popping the hood on Windows and studying the source code that underlies it. Because of this, the world's most widespread computer system is completely outside the control of its users. This puts Microsoft in a dominant position over its customers, which it takes advantage of to treat them as a product. In fact, Microsoft announced that, with Windows 10, it will begin forcing lower-paying users to test less-secure new updates before giving higher-paying users the option of whether or not to adopt them.

Increased public scrutiny has forced Microsoft to adjust its advertising to focus on how secure it is and how well it protects privacy. But who does it secure and protect? Certainly not the user. Since Windows 10 is nonfree software, users and independent security experts can't access the source code, so they are forced to take Microsoft's word for it that their computers are safe and their data is being used responsibly. And it hardly seems warranted to trust a company that is reported to give the NSA special security tip-offs that it could use to crack into Windows computers.

Advertising companies are surely licking their chops over Windows 10's new privacy policy, which asserts the privilege to sell almost any information it wants about users, even creating a unique advertising ID for each user to sweeten the deal.

By contrast, free software like the GNU/Linux operating system is developed by professional and volunteer communities working transparently, freely sharing their work with each other and the world. Users have meaningful influence over the software development process and complete choice over what code they run. This means the software usually treats them with respect. Even if a free software developer took a page from Microsoft's book and began abusing its users, it would have no way to keep them locked in -- when this happens, independent experts copy the source code, remove the offending bits and help people switch to the user-respecting version.

Because it is fundamentally insecure and scoffs at privacy, Windows is an open window onto you. Because it locks users and independent experts out of the development process, it is also a locked door to your computer, and only Microsoft has the key. If you are considering replacing your operating system with Windows 10, we hope you switch to GNU/Linux instead. Join thousands of others and pledge to try GNU/Linux today.

The FSF maintains a list of endorsed GNU/Linux distributions, and there are myriad resources online for getting started. If you want to try free software but you can't be persuaded to leave Windows quite yet, try these free programs that work on Windows. If you are thinking about buying a new computer, check out the laptops we certify through our Respects Your Freedom program. If you're the type that builds their own computer, use h-node, the community-maintained database of computer components that work well with free software.

We can't hope to match Microsoft's huge advertising budget, but if you're on social media (see our recommendations for user-respecting social media systems) you can help raise awareness of Windows' abuses and encourage people to switch, in your own words. Help us jam Microsoft's ridiculous #UpgradeYourWorld hashtag by including it in your posts encouraging people to steer clear of Windows.

Media Contacts

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
campaigns@fsf.org

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