Windows 7 should live on as open source, spectacularly optimistic petition demands

Windows 7
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Windows 7 may have reached end-of-life, with official support no longer provided (at least not for free), but the veteran OS could live on if Microsoft released it as open source.

That’s the demand – and it is a demand, not a suggestion – from the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which has issued a petition calling for Microsoft to ‘upcycle’ Windows 7 by turning it open source.

After all, Microsoft is huge on everything open source these days, right? It’s all about open source, listening to user feedback, and acting on it.

The feedback from FSF might raise a few hackles at Microsoft, though, as the wording of the petition is, shall we say, on the strong and blunt side.

It reads: “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 there is already a precedent for releasing some core Windows utilities as free software, Microsoft has nothing to lose by liberating a version of their operating system that they themselves say has ‘reached its end.’”

And FSF further directly addresses Microsoft executives to “demand that Windows 7 be released as free software”, and urges them “to respect the freedom and privacy of your users – not simply strongarm them into the newest Windows version.”

Nothing to lose?

Of course, the truth is that making Windows 7 open source would be an unprecedented and radical move, and there are obvious problems with this idea.

FSF might insist that Microsoft has ‘nothing to lose’, but that’s not really the case, is it?

Microsoft could obviously potentially lose users who will soon – or eventually – upgrade to Windows 10 (if they don’t look entirely elsewhere for an OS).

And remember that Microsoft is still making money from Windows 7, by charging for extended support beyond end-of-life (business users can get an extra year of support with certain versions of Windows 7, and there’s a scheme that allows companies to pay for additional support on top of that). 

Moreover, there would be obvious dangers for Windows 10 in such an endeavor, because a good deal of Windows 7 code was carried on into Microsoft’s most recent OS, of course.

In short, there’s vanishingly-little-to-no-chance of this actually happening, in spite of how many signatures the petition might end up gathering – with the tally currently standing at just over 1,000. FSF wants to get 7,777 supporters on board, and that might just happen as word of the petition spreads.

But no matter how much Microsoft might be pushing the angle that it wants to work with open source projects across all fronts, in all kinds of different ways, Windows 7 being opened up to all and sundry just isn’t going to happen.

Via The Register

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).