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You are here: Home FSF News Activists trick-or-treat for free software at Windows 8 launch event

Activists trick-or-treat for free software at Windows 8 launch event

by Zak Rogoff Contributions Published on Oct 25, 2012 12:29 PM
New York, New York, USA -- Thursday, October 25th, 2012 -- Today visitors to the primary Windows 8 launch event were greeted by an unexpected and uninvited visitor -- a gnu. Activists, one dressed as the free software movement's buffalo-like mascot, converged on Microsoft's event to distribute pamphlets about the hidden dangers of Microsoft's latest proprietary creation. The Halloween-themed action included plastic pumpkin buckets full of DVDs loaded with Trisquel, a free software distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system.

Standing with the gnu, Libby Reinish, FSF campaigns manager, explained why it was necessary to make Windows 8's restrictions on freedom a big part of the conversation around the operating system: "Microsoft has already spent almost two billion dollars on slick advertisements to convince people that Windows 8 will revolutionize the way they use computers. The fact is, it's basically Windows 7 with new surveillance 'features' and even more restrictions on users' freedom. Whether or not Microsoft wants you to know it, it's easy to switch to free software instead of choosing a downgrade to your rights as a computer user -- for example, your rights to know what the system is doing and to change behaviors you don't like. We're here because we want people to know that they don't have to buy Windows 8 -- this is a great time to upgrade to free 'as in freedom' software."

Today's action is the beginning of a new FSF campaign around Windows 8, which will track the proprietary operating system over the coming months and continue to cut through the marketing hype to explain the problems with the OS. The FSF plans to launch a Web site with a full-scale campaign, including grassroots participation, and future physical and online actions. The initial home of the campaign is, where visitors are invited to sign an online pledge to skip Windows 8 and upgrade their computers to a free software operating system.

FSF executive director John Sullivan discussed his plans for the campaign: "There's been plenty of talk in the media about whether Windows 8 will be annoying because it has no 'Start' button or because its Internet desktop will make it slow and glitchy. The deeper problem is that it is restrictive and damaging to your freedom as a computer user. We will make sure that, no matter what Microsoft's advertising is focused on, computer users still have a chance to learn about the fundamental issues with proprietary operating systems, and about the path to something better."

The campaign comes at a time when SOPA/PIPA and CISPA have thrust Internet freedom issues into the spotlight. The FSF applauds this focus on computer users' rights, but believes it also requires a focus on free operating systems. Even when Web sites do not restrict and spy on their users, operating systems increasingly do. A truly free Internet, they say, cannot exist unless it is accessed with a free operating system.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement's goal is freedom for computer users. Some, especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as "open source," which cites only practical goals such as making software powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and avoids discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are different at the deepest level. For more explanation, see

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom. See

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see

Media Contacts

Zakkai Kauffman-Rogoff and Libby Reinish
Campaigns Managers
Free Software Foundation
(617) 542-5942


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