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09/10/2021 15:40:22  

"October 5 marks the official release of Windows 11, a new version of the operating system that doesn't do anything at all to counteract Windows' long history of depriving users of freedom and digital autonomy," writes Free Software Foundation campaigns manager Greg Farough. "While we might have been encouraged by Microsoft's vague, aspirational slogans about community and togetherness, Windows 11 takes important steps in the wrong direction when it comes to user freedom." Microsoft claims that "life's better together" in their advertising for this latest Windows version, but when it comes to technology, there is no surer way of keeping users divided and powerless than nonfree softwarechoosing to create an unjust power structure, in which a developer knowingly keeps users powerless and dependent by withholding information. Increasingly, this involves not only withholding the source code itself, but even basic information on how the software works: what it's really doing, what it's collecting, and how often it's snitching on users. "Snitching" may sound dramatic, but Windows 11 will now require a Microsoft account to be connected to every user account, granting them the ability to correlate user behavior with one's personal identity. Even those who think they have nothing to hide should be wary of sharing potentially all of their computing activity with any company, much less one with a track record of abuse like Microsoft... We expect Microsoft to use its tighter control on cryptography that happens in Windows as a way to impose more severe Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) onto media and applications, and as a way to ensure that no application can run in Windows without Microsoft's approval. In cases like these, it's no longer appropriate to call a machine running Windows a "personal" computer, as it obeys Microsoft more than it does its user. Indeed, it's bitterly ironic that Microsoft is calling the program that verifies a system's compatibility with Windows 11 a "PC Health Check." We counter that a healthy PC is one that respects its user's wishes, runs free software, and doesn't purposefully restrict them through treacherous computing. It would also never send the user's encryption keys back to its corporate overlords. Intrepid users will likely find a way around this requirement, yet it doesn't change the fact that the majority of Windows users will be forced into a treacherous computing scheme... Sometimes, Microsoft realizes that it can't be quite so overtly antisocial. We've commented many times before on the hypocrisy involved in saying that Microsoft "loves open source" and "loves Linux," two ways of mentioning free software without reference to freedom. At the same time, Microsoft employees do make contributions to free software, contributions which benefit many others. Yet they do not extend this philosophy to their operating system, and in the last few years, they've made an attempt to impair the ways free software makes "life better together" further by making critical functions of Microsoft GitHub rely on nonfree JavaScript and directing users toward Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS) platforms. By attacking user freedom through Windows, and the free software community directly by means of nonfree JavaScript, Microsoft proves that it has no plans to loosen its grip on users. No program that you're forbidden to copy, modify, or share can truly bring people "together" in the way that Microsoft claims. Thankfully, and right outside the window, there's a true community of users you and your loved ones can join... Let's stop falling for the trap of chasing short-term, superficial improvements in proprietary software that may seem to make life better, and instead opt for free software, the only software that can support the best versions of ourselves. The post urges readers to sign (or renew!) their pledge not to use Windows and to help a friend install GNU/Linux, "sending Microsoft the strong message that software that subjugates its users has no place in Windows.... If you don't feel ready to take the plunge and switch entirely, you can use our resources like the Free Software Directory to find programs you can use as starting points for your free software journey." The post also has harsh words for TPM, warning that "when it's deployed by a proprietary software company, its relationship to the user isn't one based on trust, but based on treachery. When fully controlled by the user, TPM can be a useful way to strengthen encryption and user privacy, but when it's in the hands of Microsoft, we're not optimistic." And when it comes to Microsoft teams, "it seems that no Windows user can avoid it any longer.... we hope Teams' unpopularity and its newfound, unwanted place in Windows will encourage users to seek out conferencing programs that they themselves can control."

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