EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.24.19

Richard Stallman Explains His Microsoft Talk

Posted in FSF, Microsoft at 12:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

My Talk at Microsoft by Richard Stallman (original released under CC-BY; Copyright © 2019 Richard Stallman)

Stallman at Microsoft

Summary: “There are those who think that Microsoft invited me to speak in the hope of seducing me away from the free software cause. Some fear that it might even have succeeded. I am sure the Microsoft staff I addressed saw that that could never happen.”

It is now public knowledge that on 4 September 2019 I gave a talk at the Microsoft campus in Redmond. I was invited and I accepted. The report of this has led to a certain amount of speculation and rumor.

There are those who think that Microsoft invited me to speak in the hope of seducing me away from the free software cause. Some fear that it might even have succeeded. I am sure the Microsoft staff I addressed saw that that could never happen. I resisted Steve Jobs’s snow job in 1989 or 1990; I am no easy mark for those who want me to change my views.

Others assert that inviting me was opposition research and nothing more. If that was the intention, Microsoft didn’t learn anything it could not have learned from recordings of my talks.

In the past, Microsoft published what it called “contributions to open source” that were no contribution whatsoever to the Free World. (This says something about the deep difference between the open source and the free software movement.) However, if Microsoft sought to return to that practice, it had no need to invite me.

Some are trying to portray my decision to speak there as approval of Microsoft’s current conduct. This is, of course, absurd. My rejection of Microsoft’s nonfree software continues just like my rejection of all other nonfree software. But the fact that people make nonfree software is no reason not to show them reasons why software should be free.

I don’t think Microsoft invited me with a view to seduction, or opposition research, or trickery, or misrepresention. I think some Microsoft executives are seriously interested in the ethical issues surrounding software. They may also be interested in carrying out some of the specific suggestions/requests I presented. I started with a list of actions that would help the free software community, and which I though Microsoft might be amenable to, before stating the free software philosophy in the usual way. I think there is a chance that Microsoft might change some practices in ways that would help the Free World practically, even if they do not support us overall.

It is only a chance; I would not try to estimate the probability. Microsoft did not give me any promises to change; I did not ask for any.

What I can say now is that we should judge Microsoft’s future actions by their nature and their effects. It would be a mistake to judge a given action more harshly if done by Microsoft than we would if some other company did the same thing. I’ve said this since 1997.

That page describes some hostile things that Microsoft famously did. We should not forget them, but we should not maintain a burning grudge over actions that ended years ago. We should judge Microsoft in the future by what it does then.

Another thing I’ve said for years, about various companies, is that when a company does several different things, it is best to judge each thing on its own, provided they are separable. Actions that benefit freedom are good, and we should say so, while being careful not to let a small good distract us from a large evil.

The main motive for Microsoft’s future activities, whether changed or not, will surely be profit. That is neither here nor there, because the free software movement is not against profit, as such; we are not the simplistic opposite of the extreme capitalism which claims that profit justifies any and all means. We approve of what respects users’ freedom, whether done for profit or not, and we condemn what tramples users’ freedom, whether done for profit or not.

Time will show us whether Microsoft begins to do substantial activities that we can judge as good. Let’s encourage that in all prudent ways.

Here are the suggestions I gave to Microsoft.

  • Help keep computers unlocked (no “secure boot” that restricts what systems we can run). Truly secure boot means YOU specify what system is allowed to run in your computer.
  • Help make peripherals safe — no back doors in their embedded software. This applies to keyboards, cameras, disks and memory sticks, since they contain computers and with preinstalled software that can be replaced through a universal back door. Crackers do that, installing malware into them, which becomes an advanced persistent threat. I can explain more if desired.
  • Publicly take back Microsoft’s attacks on copyleft made in the 2000s. Ballmer called the GPL a “cancer”. Allchin called it “un-American”.
  • Encourage copylefting of application and library code, maybe even system and tool code.
  • Direct GitHub to promote correct and clear use of licenses and the best use of copyleft (GPL version 3-or-later).
  • Help fight against copyright on interfaces.
  • Help make the web usable with Javascript deactivated.
  • Implement an anonymous internet sales platform that doesn’t require Javascript, using GNU Taler (taler.net).
  • Publish the hardware interface of products such as Hololens so we can run them without any nonfree software. Even if our software is years behind, that will be better than not being able to use these devices at all.

And one other suggestion, which I made to a vice president but perhaps not in my talk.

  • Release the source code of Windows under the GNU GPL.

I know that is a stretch, but from what I heard there. it isn’t totally impossible.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. A Call for Patent Sanity

    The public's call for reform is motivated by improved understanding of today's debased patent system and how out-of-order (detached from its original mission statement) it has gotten; patent maximalism, if it does not completely unravel this whole system, severely discredits it



  2. Declassified US Army Field Manuals Explain Microsoft's Public Relations Strategy (Similar to Selling Imperialism to the Occupied)

    The misuse of public broadcast to brainwash the public is well understood and thoroughly exploited by both Microsoft and the Gates Foundation (which sells this ridiculous lie that the world’s richest people speak for and fight for the poorest, i.e. those impoverished by endless greed)



  3. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 10, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, July 10, 2020



  4. Links 11/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Openbox, Kiwi TCMS 8.5, Librem 5 Dogwood Update 3

    Links for the day



  5. Education Without Free Software is Training or Indoctrination

    Kids need to decide for themselves what they want to do and what they wish to use when they grow up; schools need to provide general tools and the mental capacity to make good decisions (rather than make these decisions for the kids, sometimes at the behest of foreign monopolists)



  6. Links 10/7/2020: Wayland-Info, diffoscope 151 and Tor 0.4.4.2-alpha

    Links for the day



  7. European FRAND (Related to SEP) Proponent and Famed Programmer Comes to Realise That It's Actually a “Scam”

    Even people who have long promoted the practice of mandatory "licensing" (in effect patent tax one is unable to work around) are apparently changing their minds and their tune



  8. Not Even a Single Corporate Journalist Has Written Anything About These Very Important Bits of News

    Constant propaganda from patent maximalists has long infested the media, which is sometimes controlled and even bribed to set the tone and the agenda; important developments are being tucked away and require very deep digging for ordinary citizens to find



  9. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 09, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, July 09, 2020



  10. Racism in Technology (and Who Typically Lectures Us About the Subject)

    Racism is a real problem; some approaches to tackling racism, however, can also be problematic and those who take the lead 'on behalf' of victims tend to be opportunistic and privileged few (piggybacking others' grievances to further advance their financial agenda)



  11. Links 10/7/2020: Debian 8 Long Term Support EOL, Mobian Project, Mesa 20.1.3

    Links for the day



  12. [Humour] COVID-19 is Very, Very Afraid of Human Beings Making More Monopolies Instead of Fighting Together

    The European Patent Office (EPO) to the rescue! Fighting a dangerous pandemic one profitable monopoly at a time!



  13. The News is Never 'Slow', It's Just Journalism That's Slowing Down (and Investigative Journalism Coming Under Attack)

    A mix of censorship and subtle mind control contribute to misinformed societies that shape their perception or misunderstanding of the world based on false measures of authority (where money can determine what is true and what is untrue); many topics remain completely untouched, leading to apathy in a vacuum; it's very much applicable to international organisations, which are presumed benign by virtue of being multi-national or supranational



  14. Social Control Media is About Social Control and If It Doesn't Ban You It'll Shut Down Everyone's Account (One Day)

    It’s time to leave the ‘Internet rot’ which is social control media well behind us; blogging and RSS/XML may seem like a thing of the past, but they may as well become the future (again; if we make the correct and informed choices)



  15. Microsoft's Fingers in Every Pie: The Cult Mentality That Society Needs to Become Wary of

    Microsoft and its co-founder (pretending to do his for-profit 'charity' via the Gates Foundation) are trying to control the world; in the process they've moved to control even their most potent competitor, according to Gates himself, which is GNU/Linux



  16. Links 9/7/2020: Google’s Open Usage Commons, GNOME 3.36.4, Neptune 6.5

    Links for the day



  17. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, July 08, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, July 08, 2020



  18. Links 8/7/2020: SUSE to Acquire Rancher Labs, Btrfs as Default in Fedora, Qt Creator 4.12.4

    Links for the day



  19. Yes, Master

    When the Linux Foundation tells us to tone down our language we ought to remember what kind of hypocritical stance these people have (note: the above have nothing to do with slavery, either)



  20. Fraunhofer is Again Evergreening Software Patents to Maintain Its Codecs Cartel, Forcing Everyone to Pay to View/Stream Multimedia Files

    The roller-coaster of software patents on multimedia isn't stopping; we know the culprits who can be named for perpetuating this injustice



  21. [Humour/Meme] Focusing on the Bombings and Who's Included in the Bombings

    Supremacist agenda disguised as "tolerant and inclusive" is still objectionable supremacist agenda



  22. Manners Are a Good Thing. The Yardstick or the Standard of Manners Changes Over Time.

    Entirely legitimate grievances of African-Americans are being exploited by people who aren’t even African-American (and usually don’t speak for African-Americans) to warp the debate from one about software ethics and technical issues, not to mention war crimes of companies that employ many programmers, to something which is unlikely to really help African-Americans (also, they don't employ any African-Americans)



  23. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 07, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, July 07, 2020



  24. Links 8/7/2020: Huawei’s GNU/Linux PC, Sparky 5.12, and Endless OS 3.8.4 Released

    Links for the day



  25. [Humour] Television Channels That Don't Speak of Real Looting But Participate in Looting

    People may need to look beyond (or outside) the television screen to grasp what's going on



  26. (Software) Freedom is Elusive Without the Ability to Concentrate

    Software is consuming people's minds; to make matters worse, people have become so attached to such software that they're unable to see it and get away from it (they associate that software with "social life")



  27. Monopolies Erode Freedom, Freedom Erodes Monopolies

    "There are so many reasons that GitHub makes projects less free."



  28. Links 7/7/2020: NomadBSD 1.3.2, Clonezilla Live 2.6.7 and DRM Comes to Cars

    Links for the day



  29. [Humour] IAM Ranked Top for Quality of EPO Propaganda

    Contrary to what the European Patent Office (EPO) keeps saying, patent quality is slipping very fast in Europe (based on the EPO's own analysis!) but patent trolls-funded publishers deny that



  30. When They're Done With Patents on Foods and Recipes They'll Have Patents on Fashion, Taste and Smell

    The mental dysfunction — an infectious condition — that says everything in the world must be patented should be resisted; it overlooks the fact that patents were introduced to protect/promote actual invention, not thoughts, feelings, nature and art


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts