As Microsoft launches closed-source "Windows 7", the FSF has created a website about Windows 7 Sins, detailing 7 sins that Windows makes. I thought I'd rebut their claims.
1. Poisoning education The FSF claims that Microsoft "Microsoft spends large sums on lobbyists and marketing to corrupt educational departments". Well, so does the "free-software" movement. There are unpaid enthusiasts everywhere trying to convince educational departments to move to open-source like Linux. There are also big multinationals (Sun, IBM) selling hardware/services that lobby government for laws favoring open-source. They are no more truthful about the advantages/costs of open-source than Microsoft is of Windows.
What makes Microsoft different, however, is that they listen to children. They spend hundreds of millions on usability exercises listening to children using Windows. They believe that only by listening to children can you "empower" them. On the 7-sins website, the FSF has a picture of the OLPC or "One Laptop Per Child". The OLPC was created for children by a bunch of professors, but was made without any user input from the children themselves. The only feedback from children are photo opportunities where children are encouraged to confirm how wonderful the system is, in a truly Orwellian fashion.
2. Invading privacy The FSF has a point here, I won't deny this one. I will point out that right now, this privacy invasion is tiny. While it's a bad principle, it's not so bad in practice.
3. Monopoly behavior The FSF claims that "nearly every computer purchased has Windows pre-installed". This is a lie. More computers ship with Linux (a "free" operating system) than Windows. The only place Microsoft dominates is the desktop. Everywhere else, from mobile phones to wireless access-points to home media devices to Internet servers, Microsoft loses out to Linux (and other operating systems). It's the "free" operating system Linux that dominates the world - it's only the desktop where Microsoft dominates.
Moreover, Microsoft is losing the war for the desktop. Computing has moved to the cloud, where Linux dominates. Less and less time is spent with applications installed on the desktop and more and more time is spent with web-based services accessible via any device, such as mobile phones.
Microsoft is in the position IBM was in the 1980s, when the world moved away from mainframes (dominated by IBM) and embraced desktop computers. Today, people are moving away from the desktop. Linux will never unseat Microsoft on the desktop - but it will become the eventual victor as the desktop becomes irrelevant. The FSF demeans itself by continuing to fight against a has-been company like Microsoft trying to undo its victory of the past; it should be fighting for new markets in the future.
4. Lock-in The FSF claims "Microsoft regularly attempts to force updates on its users, by removing support for older versions of Windows and Office". This is so not true. Microsoft does the reverse, supporting old technologies long after it becomes uneconomical to do so. Microsoft continues to support Windows NT, developed in the 1990s - as long as you pay extra for it. The only thing that stops is free support.
Even Linux deals with the fact that technology changes, and they have to remove support for older stuff from the default kernel. The 'atime' issue is one of the more amusing examples of this. If you've got an old version of Linux, and there is a problem needing to be fixed, you'll have to pay somebody to fix it -- just like Microsoft.
More amusing is the GNU public license viral "lock-in", which is more of a fight against other open-source licenses rather than a fight against closed-source.
5. Abusing standards The FSF claims that Microsoft tries to block standardization. This isn't true. I've been through numerous standardization efforts, I know how this works. Standards are driven by people who have a narrow focus on an ideal implementation, but who have little experience in the dirty practical details. In this case, they are driven by people who have never created their own word processor, but who want to tell word processing companies how to do their job. Microsoft is fighting for support of features that would be obvious to anybody who has written world-processing software, but which the standards body doesn't understand.
The Internet was created by people who created working implementations FIRST, and then standardized the implementation SECOND. Microsoft is fighting a standards process that works the other way around. Adopting Microsoft's format would be the smartest thing for the standard's body to do.
6. Enforcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) I agree partially with the FSF here. I believe that if YOU buy something, it should support YOUR rights. It should not support SOMEBODY ELSES rights over YOURS. On the other hand, I don't use Microsoft's Media Player - I use VLC. The media player isn't part of the operating system, it's just an application. Using Windows does not stop you from using things like iTunes or VLC.
7. Threatening user security This is another outright lie by the FSF. The history of Windows vulnerabilities is no worse than Linux. A "virus" is something that spreads among desktops - since Linux has virtually no desktops, it of course has virtually no viruses. The lack of Linux viruses doesn't mean Linux is better, it simply means that hackers go after the biggest target.
More importantly, Microsoft has become the leader in security, both in terms of how code is written (like the SDL) as well as features in the operating system (like ASLR). It is Linux and the open-source community that is catching up with Windows security, and not the other way around.
Summary The FSF pretends to claim the "moral high ground", so few question them. Yet, they are an Orwellian organization based upon the 1984 slogan that "Freedom is Slavery". While they the polar opposite of Microsoft, that doesn't make them any less sinful.