Windows 7 to Windows 10: Is Microsoft Forcing our Hand?

The beginning of the year is always a time of reflection and intentional improvement. In the world of business, 2020 has brought a change that was a necessity rather than a choice: Windows 7 has reached the end of its life and for your business to stay supported it’s must update to Windows 10. The date has passed, and many businesses have undergone the change.

There is a vocal group of users who demand that Microsoft meet their terms. The Free Software Foundation, or the FSF, has distributed a petition calling for Microsoft to make Windows 7 an open-source software. The petition states “We call on them to release it as free software and give it to the community to study and improve.” The petition started on January 23rd and aimed for 7,777 signers. A week later they have significantly exceeded their goal with 11,828 signers.

Here are their basic demands:

  • 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.

To open-source Windows 7, Microsoft would release the source code for the software under a license in which the copyright holder (Microsoft) grants users the ability to study and change the software, potentially redistributing it. The petition states that the end of Windows 7’s life gives Microsoft a chance to end “its updates, as well as its ten years of poisoning education, invading privacy, and threatening user security. The end of the Windows 7 lifecycle gives Microsoft the perfect opportunity to undo past wrongs.” The petition frames upcycling Windows 7 as a moral imperative considering Microsoft’s monopoly on operating systems.

Many users have already taken the steps necessary to upgrade to Windows 10 or they have paid Microsoft to extend support on their Windows 7 software. For businesses who have been unable to update by the deadline, (January 14, 2020), their recourse has been to pay Microsoft for Extended Security Updates (ESU). Germany recently paid Microsoft € 800,000 to secure 33,000 machines that they failed to update to Windows 10.

Companies are willing to pay the price for ongoing support because to forgo support is to forgo the security that Microsoft provides through its updates. Updates are vital because of included patches addressing security vulnerabilities. While the software is supported, you get updates for free. Once you lose the support you are incredibly vulnerable to security breaches. At this point, most companies think it’s worth the cost to stay supported than the risk to your pockets (and your reputation) to go unsupported.

Making Windows 7 a public property would have its own risks. Even if users of Windows 7 had a product that was supported by a larger community, it would also be vulnerable to the larger community. It would lack the protection and accountability of Microsoft should anything go wrong.

No one who interacts with technology expects it to stagnate. From a business perspective, the FSF’s demands are risky. The reality is that most businesses won’t take a risk when their IT is concerned. Microsoft software is easy to use most businesses will invest in whatever technology keeps them secure and up to date. Valiant has partnered with many of our clients to upgrade to Windows 10 prior to the January 14th deadline, and we are happy to guide those who missed the deadline. Keep your business secure in 2020 and beyond.

Megan is a member of our Marketing & Sales team, assisting in demonstrating the value of our services and ensuring positive experiences for prospective clients. When not working with technology,...

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