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Free Software Group Lobbies Against Windows 7

"We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."

That's the message that the Free Software Foundation (FSF) wants the heads of Fortune 500 companies to get this week as it launches a campaign to get large companies to reject Windows 7, and other Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) software.

Instead of sticking with Windows, the FSF urges those companies to recognize what it views as the dangers of proprietary software and to adopt open source software -- such as GNU/Linux and OpenOffice.org, in place of Windows and Office.

Dubbed Windows7sins, the letter and campaign Web site take aim at seven areas where the FSF sees Microsoft, and proprietary software overall, moving society toward a tyrannical rule by commercial technology giants.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the Windows7sins letter and campaign.

The campaign is but the latest in years of sparring between the FSF -- and free and open source software proponents in general -- and proprietary software vendors, especially Microsoft.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has done plenty of firing back: In 2007, the company said that Linux infringes on hundreds of patents, and hasn't shown many signs of changing its stance.

At the same time, however, Microsoft has also made efforts to embrace free and open source software and its supporters. In 2007, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved two licenses maintained by the company -- the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) and the Microsoft Reciprocal License (Ms-RL). Last year, it joined the Apache Software Foundation.

But that hasn't dissuaded the FSF. In its new campaign, the group accuses Microsoft of committing "sins" that include "invading privacy, poisoning education, locking users in, abusing standards, leveraging monopolistic behavior, enforcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), and threatening user security," according to its letter.

FSF cites DRM as a classic example.

"Whether Microsoft is merely a co-conspirator with big media companies or an advocate for DRM in their own right, the result for software users is the same: When you use Windows 7, you hand over control of basic aspects of your computer to the media industry," the FSF said in its letter.

The organization also advocated that users send in names of IT decision makers to add to their list.

"With the release of Microsoft's updated operating system [Windows 7], business leaders have the opportunity to escape to freedom and join a growing list of leaders who understand that sinking money and time into proprietary software is a dead-end inconsistent with their best interests," the letter added.

As a symbolic show of solidarity, the group also called for a public demonstration, which it referred to as a "freedom rally," Wednesday at noon on Boston Commons.

"Our growing dependence on computers and software requires our society to reevaluate its obsession with proprietary software that spies on citizens' activities and limits their freedom to be in control of their computing," Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF, said in a statement.