Should Microsoft make Windows 7 open source? The Free Software Foundation thinks so!

Upcycle Windows 7

Windows 7 is dead to Microsoft -- unless, of course, you're willing to pay. It's now ten days since the operating system reached end of life, but many people, for various reasons, are choosing to stick with it rather than upgrading to Windows 10.

This means missing out on security updates, but the Free Software Foundation (FSF) thinks it has a solution. It suggests that Microsoft 'upcycles' Windows 7 and makes the operating system open source so that the community can "study and improve" it.

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The organization has started a petition to try to convince Microsoft that opening sourcing the OS is a good idea. It says: "Microsoft's support of Windows 7 is over, but its life doesn't have to end. We call on Microsoft to upcycle it instead". It claims that the company "has nothing to lose by liberating a version of their operating system that they themselves say has 'reached its end'".

The FSF believes Microsoft should see Windows 7's EOL as an opportunity (noting also that the EOL means an end to "its ten years of poisoning education, invading privacy, and threatening user security"):

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.

We call on them to release it as free software, and give it to the community to study and improve.

As the group points out, there is already a precedent for Microsoft making Windows utilities available on an open source basis, but the company has never done this for anything as large or significant as Windows 7. The FSF makes three requests of Microsoft executives:

  • We demand that Windows 7 be released as free software. Its life doesn't have to end. Give it to the community to study, modify, and share.
  • We urge you to respect the freedom and privacy of your users -- not simply strongarm them into the newest Windows version.
  • We want more proof that you really respect users and user freedom, and aren't just using those concepts as marketing when convenient.

It is extremely unlikely that Microsoft will take any notice of the petition, but you can still sign it here.

Image credit: Free Software Foundation

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