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Microsoft urged: Open-source Windows 7 to 'undo past wrongs'


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Microsoft urged: Open-source Windows 7 to 'undo past wrongs'


Group of free software advocates calls on Microsoft to release Windows 7 under a free software license.

Windows 7 has reached end of life, meaning no more free feature or security updates. So what should Microsoft do next with the Windows 7 source code? Advocates at the Free Software Foundation (FSF) are demanding Microsoft "undo past wrongs" by releasing Windows 7 as free software. 

FSF, founded by Richard Stallman in 1985, has long agitated against Microsoft's use of proprietary software licenses. At Windows 7's launch, FSF urged customers to ditch the OS. However, the group's latest campaign asks Microsoft to "do the right thing" by open-sourcing Windows 7 under a free license like GNU Public License (GPL), which Stallman created. 

The new petition comes as Microsoft increasingly embraces open source and Linux, occasionally open-sourcing chunks of its software empire, and even shipping Windows 10 with a Linux kernel. 

But Microsoft is unlikely to cave into the Windows 7 demands that FSF outlined in a petition launched last week, asking Microsoft to "give it to the community to study and improve". 

FSF argues that Microsoft has "nothing to lose by liberating a version of their operating system that they themselves say has reached its end. 

The petition was aiming to gather at least 7,777 supporters and today has exceeded that by 1,000.   

The petition outlines three demands:

We demand that Windows 7 be released as free software. Its life doesn't have to end. Give it to the community to study, modify, and share.

We urge you to respect the freedom and privacy of your users – not simply strong-arm them into the newest Windows version.

We want more proof that you really respect users and user freedom, and aren't just using those concepts as marketing when convenient.

Windows 7 did reach end of life this month, but one reason Microsoft probably won't open-source Windows 7 is that for the next three years it will still provide security updates for businesses that pay for Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU). Windows 7 ESUs are targeted at customers that haven't completed the migration to Windows 10.  

The German federal government, for example, reportedly will pay at least €800,000 ($886,000) this year to Microsoft for Windows 7 ESUs.

Also, as The Register points out, there are still portions of Windows 7 code in Windows 10, so it's probably not in the company's best interests to release a free version of Windows 7. 

A free Windows has been a consistent demand of Stallman, who retired from FSF last year. He gave a speech at Microsoft Research last year outlining 10 demands, including thatMicrosoft "publicly take back Microsoft's attacks on copyleft made in the 2000s" and to release the source code of Windows under the GNU GPL.

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Yeah, I don't see Microsoft ever doing this.  They have far too much invested in their proprietary code and licensing to give up so much of what makes up the core of their operating systems (including 8/8.1 and Windows 10) by open sourcing Windows 7 (as I've mentioned previously, internally and architecturally there are very few actual differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10, even with all the changes to the UI and additional features in 10).  MS just wants everyone to move on to Windows 10, game on XBOX (including the XBOX multi-platform software-as-a-service model, not just on the console itself) and to get locked into the Windows Store ecosystem because they seek to gain the same kinds of profits others have through similar models (e.g. Google with their ecosystem, Apple with iTunes and their app store, and even Amazon with their Kindle/Fire/Prime streaming etc.).

It sure would be nice though if they did, because I know I'm not the only one interested in keeping 7 alive.  It was the last OS to leave control over the system in the hands of the user, to be fully designed and optimized for a desktop computing environment (as opposed to being optimized for a tablet/touch interface), and of course lacks much of the embedded tracking and telemetry built into newer Windows releases, especially compared to Windows 10.

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2 minutes ago, Pierre75 said:

May be a long shot but stranger things have happened. 👍 🙏

That is true, and I guess you really never can tell with Microsoft these days.  It seems ever since Gates retired as CEO they've been in constant flux with one bad idea after another and flopping all the way.  They still have some successful divisions, but a lot of their big ideas ended up being big failures, especially when they decided to follow the crowd and try to imitate others' successes (like Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Adobe etc. among others).

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@exile360 @Pierre75 Why not experts look at RCE (Reverse Code Engineering)?

9 Best Reverse Engineering Tools for 2020 [Updated]


In this article, I will tell about the main tools that a modern software reverser uses in his work.

This article is for readers, who are familiar with the Assembler language, network interaction principles, and have experience of programming for Windows using API functions.

There are so many different software applications in the modern world, and the source code of the most of them is hidden from our sight. But there are a number of situations, when we do need to understand the logic of functioning of platforms and applications, their algorithms and specifics. That is when the legal software reversing is called up – a service provided by Apriorit software research department.

There are a lot of products to make this task easier. We are going to discuss some of the best reverse engineering software; mainly it will be tools reverse engineering tools for Windows. Notice that you can learn more details about the process and nuances of Windows software reversing in this post (great example included). If you are more interested in iOS/OS X code reverse engineering software and approaches - take a look at this post prepared by our researches.

How to Reverse Engineer Software (Windows) the Right Way


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There is a very interesting case of reverse engineering which the court found legal.

read on in https://www.upcounsel.com/reverse-engineering-patent-infringement

Prior to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, many companies and individuals wondered whether reverse engineering was a legal process. A controversy between video game makers Nintendo and Atari laid out some of the early framework for the legality of reverse engineering. In the late 20th century, the Nintendo Entertainment Systems (NES) 8-bit device was one of the top options in the video gaming market. This device included a security mechanism called the 10-NES and restricted the use of games that didn't contain specific software and a chip. NES used this security mechanism to encourage developers of popular video games to enter into licensing contracts.

The 8-bit was introduced to the U.S. market in 1986, which was the same year that Atari, a competing video gaming company, started reverse engineering the device. Atari used a method that monitored the communication between the game console and cartridge, but this didn't provide sufficient information. Next, Atari used a chemical peeling process to remove layers from the NES chips to examine the object code under a microscope. Even with these efforts, Atari could not reconstruct the code from the layers removed from the chips.

When NES filed for copyright protection, the process included filing a listing of all object code. This document included the details that Atari was trying to find through the reverse engineering process. In order to gain access to the document, Atari filed a false lawsuit with claims that NES had sued Atari for infringement of copyright. Atari submitted falsified affidavits to the office, which granted them access to a copy of the listing document. Following this action, Atari began reproducing the software for its own video games.

NES filed a lawsuit against Atari for copyright infringement. One issue brought up in the suit was whether Atari had the right to reverse engineer the security mechanism used in the NES 8-bit console. During the legal proceedings, the court determined that although Atari's method of obtaining the information was tainted, since the company filed false documents, it was legal to use reverse engineering. Going through the process of reverse engineering is considered fair use as long as it is necessary to understand the device or product.

US trade secret law views RE as a proper means of learning a trade secret,


Edited by sman
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Yes, but they didn't then publish the information, they took what they learned to create games completely independent of the NES.  I'm certain there are tons of examples where companies and individuals tried and were sued for reverse engineering, especially in the software world (otherwise cracks and warez would be legal, as would piracy, though this is not the case at all).

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Sure, but at that point they might as well just write their own OS from the ground up, because that's basically what they would have to do, and even then, if it proves to similar to Microsoft Windows they have to deal with MS in court and all the money and lawyers they have behind them.  I doubt anyone would be willing to take up the risk.

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Perhaps, but again, that's an awful lot of work just to build a kernel and basic OS, especially when there are already numerous open source operating systems out there to choose from.  Then to deliberately follow Microsoft's architecture while simultaneously checking all of their past vulnerabilities to ensure its security; I guess it just seems like a lot more work than it would probably be worth, especially since the end result would likely still be an OS which is incompatible with standard x86/x64 Windows software and drivers.

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Reverse engineering - not legal as far as I know. We would not be in this boat if IBM had accepted the offer from Bill Gates back before the WWW days. Long story............................................................... I was using the IBM intranet from home  in 1984 at the speed of 56kb and was able to work from home at times on a IBM PCJX and was able to connect to IBM sites world wide as long as they gave me access. Still in contact with a few buddies.

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Yeah, the whole Bill Gates/IBM/DOS thing was a pretty big mess, but also a lot of 'happy accidents' that lead to the PC becoming the standard for most of the computing systems in the world, and a long legacy of backwards compatibility.  Heck, if Xerox had any clue to what they had and hadn't shown it to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, we might all be using some operating system from a company more known for making copiers than software :P.

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