Richard Stallman recently gave a talk at Microsoft’s office, and all the speculation around it was kind of expected — many people concluded that Microsoft might have convinced the FSF-founder to jump the ship.
It certainly hasn’t been the case, according to Stallman, who has come forward to clear the air. “I was invited, and I accepted,” he wrote on his website.
Stallman said some people think Microsoft invited him with hopes to seduce him “away from the free software cause” and “might even have succeeded.” He argued that “that could never happen” and said, “I am no easy mark for those who want me to change my views.”
He also ruled out the possibility of Microsoft doing opposition research and said the company “didn’t learn anything it could not have learned from recordings of my talks.”
Suggestions He Gave To Microsoft
“I don’t think Microsoft invited me with a view to seduction, or opposition research, or trickery, or misrepresentation. I think some Microsoft executives are seriously interested in the ethical issues surrounding software,” Stallman said.
During what was described as a “mostly standard talk” by a Microsoft employee, Stallman said he explained the “free software philosophy in the usual way” and provided the company with a list of over ten suggestions.
To name a few, Stallman wants Microsoft to disable features like Secure Boot that “restricts what systems we can run.” The company should also “encourage copylefting” and “direct GitHub to promote correct and clear use of licenses and the best use of copyleft (GPV version-3-later).”
Trying to cure the old wounds, Stallman also suggested Microsoft to “publicly take back” the “attacks on copyleft made in the 2000s”. In the past, MS officials, including Steve Ballmer, used words like “cancer” and “un-American” to describe GPL.
Furthermore, he also asked the company to “release the source code of Windows under the GNU GPL.” Well, that’s what many have wanted for years. However, this suggestion was made separately to a Vice President.
Don’t judge Microsoft the wrong way
Although Redmond has had a change of heart in recent years, Stallman still doesn’t buy Microsoft’s “contributions to open source” as there is a difference between open source and free software. He also said we should not forget the hostile things Microsoft “famously did” in the past.
However, he went on to say that we should judge Microsoft by what it does in the future and that “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.”
Anyway, what Microsoft wants to do surely includes making profits as one of the focal points, but the free software movement isn’t “against profit, as such.” Irrespective of the profits, the movement is about approving “what respects users’ freedom” and condemn what tramples it, Stallman said.
“Time will show us whether Microsoft begins to do substantial activities that we can judge as good,” he added.