Free software body points finger at 'Bad Vista'

Free Software Foundation launches 'Bad Vista' site

As Windows Vista begins rolling out to business customers, the Free Software Foundation has launched a website devoted to taking Microsoft's latest operating system down a peg.

The "Bad Vista" site promises to expose the ways Vista imposes more controls on users via anti-piracy measures, content copy protection and other new technologies -- aspects that have already raised concerns in the industry.

"Whilst Microsoft embarks upon its largest-ever product launch, its marketing dollars will be spent in an effort to fool the media and user community about the goals of Vista," said FSF executive director Peter Brown on the site. "We aim to demonstrate that technologists can be social activists, because we know the harm that Vista will cause."

FSF program administrator John Sullivan called Vista "an upsell masquerading as an upgrade", because of the degree to which users lose control of their computer.

"Windows is already proprietary and very restrictive, and well worth rejecting. But the new 'features' in Vista are a Trojan horse to smuggle in even more restrictions," he said on the site. "We'll be focusing attention on detailing how they work, how to resist them, and why people should care."

As if to reinforce the FSF's message, Microsoft has revealed one of Vista's new features is an "enhanced reduced-functionality mode" -- an upgrade to Windows XP's "reduced functionality" feature, which is designed to force users to verify their installed OS with Microsoft.

The FSF said it plans to focus on Vista's hard-wired security measures and content copy protection features, among other areas.

At the same time it will encourage users to try open-source alternatives such as gNewSense, the FSF said. The FSF is an advocacy organization created to promote open-source licences such as the GNU General Public Licence and the software development activities associated with them, particularly Linux.

The group argues that proprietary software, by its nature, infringes on a user's right to freely control his computer and what runs on it.

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