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FSF launches Windows 7 anti-upgrade letter campaign

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The Free Software Foundation is mobilizing against Windows 7 with a campaign to dissuade IT decision makers from installing the operating system.

The group has sent letters to 499 of the top Fortune 500 organizations, warning that a move to Windows 7 will increase their dependence on Microsoft and encouraging the use of GNU/Linux on PCs instead. The missing letter recipient was Microsoft.

The FSF is asking for donations to fund a further round of letters and has created a website - Windows7sins.org - that states its case against using the proprietary Windows 7.

A donation of $25 will support 50 letters, and $100 will mean 200 letters get sent to decision makers. The group has also asked people to submit details of potential recipients.

The Windows7sins site mentions a number of familiar arguments against Microsoft and Windows (its monopoly status breeds lack of choice so Windows is pre-installed on most PCs), and it also mentions weakness on security and privacy violations from Windows Genuine Advantage as it inspects users' hard drives.

WGA actually validates the Windows license on a PC at log-on and during updates through a component installed on the hard drive.

Businesses typically parlay such concerns in the interests of continuity of IT and practicality, so while these issues will matter to the FSF and free and open-source advocates in general, recipients of the FSF's letters will likely overlook these points as esoteric and idealistic.

However, the FSF has hit two nerves that could cause organizations to think twice and either re-assess what PCs should go to Linux or even OS X instead of Windows 7, or - at the very least - cause organizations to bargain hard with Microsoft to cut a special price deal.

The first nerve is Microsoft's product upgrade and support cycles.

The FSF has raised the issue that support for older versions of Windows begins to come to an end as newer versions of the operating system are released. Over time, end users are either forced to upgrade, pay for additional support, or fix things themselves.

According to the FSF, Linux doesn't tie you into the Microsoft treadmill because the raw code is openly available so that you or third parties can keep systems going and not rely on one company.

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