microsoft redefines "free software"

i took this screenshot a while ago because i found it slightly amusing. everyone i show it to seems to agree that it’s quite funny so now i’m posting it here for everyone’s general enjoyment:

16 thoughts on “microsoft redefines "free software"”

  1. The “Free Software” Foundation (FSF) geeneral capitalise the term when they use it. This isn’t an unreasonable use of the English language on Microsofts part, the software is free in the sense that the face price is $0. More worrying is the amount of utterly unintelligable marketing jargon and corporate-speak that manages to get on the Microsoft website.

    Frankly I think the FSF have no one but themselves to blame for the confusion. They say free as freedom, so why not just say *freedom*, and if they had called it “freedom software” in the first place things would be a whole lot clearer.

  2. This isn’t an unreasonable use of the English language on Microsofts part, the software is free in the sense that the face price is $0. More worrying is the amount of utterly unintelligable marketing jargon and corporate-speak that manages to get on the Microsoft website.

    Well, on the other hand, if you actually look at the software they listed, the first one on the list is Microsoft Internet Explorer 6. If you go to Microsoft’s website in attempt to download it, its pretty clear that the software isn’t freely downloadable. You need to verify you have a license to download Internet Explorer 6. You must purchase the license in order to download the software. So its not free by any reasonable interpretation of the English language.

  3. “freedom software” simply doesn’t make much sense if you look at the grammar of this term. “Free Software” makes perfect sense and after you have explained which meaning you mean in the english language it fits well within the 4 freedoms.
    Also you should keep in mind the the Free Software movement is not an english or american movement, it’s a worldwide movement and in many language it is completly unmistakable, e.g. “logiciels libre” in French, “software libre” in Spanish, “software libero” in Portugese, “Fri Software” in Danish, etc..

    So Free Software is a perfect term which describes exactly what we want to say because free in the sense of freedom is a common use in the normal linguistic usage of the language, the grammar of the term makes sense and it allows to speak to all peoples arround the world in their own language because it’s no coinage like “Open Source”.

  4. this software is free in no sense of the word.

    internet explorer is “free” in the sense that you get a “free cd player” when you buy a new car.

  5. > “freedom software” simply doesn’t make much sense if you look at the grammar of this term

    Rubbish! Look a sentence with no verb, I can play grammar games too. Grammar can be more flexible than you think.
    Call it artistic license or literary flair but although using a noun as an adjective may be frowned upon by grammar nazis it is exactly what they should have been creative enough to do. The shouldn’t take grammar too seriously, especially when they are already misprounouncing ‘gnu’, and trying to redefine other words.

    Frontloading the meaning by using the word “freedom” makes far more sense than obfuscating and hoping you will have the chance to explain yourself later.

  6. From m-w.com:
    Free:

    10 : not costing or charging anything

    Doesn’t look like redefining to me. If anything, the FSF have done their own redefining for their particular brand of ‘free’ to mean ‘compatible with the GPL’.

  7. if you’d have stop to read definitions 1-9 and also 11, 14 and 15 you’d find them to be more in line with the “free” used by the fsf. the fsf has done absolutely no redefining.

    on the other hand, even for the “not costing or charging anything” definition, microsoft still doesn’t qualify.

    “costing nothing, but only if you give us money” is a pretty interesting idea indeed.

  8. In french this ambiguity dont exist because
    free or open source software is translate by “logiciel libre” and free in the sense not costing is translate by “logiciel gratuit”.
    sorry for my very bad english!!!

  9. I’m all for gnu, the FSF, linux and all good things, and when I read “free software” I think FSF, Mozilla, Openoffice , Mysql and others stuff.
    but alas, “free” means also “$0″ so, microsoft can also use it. or maybe microsoft is so “evil” than even english should be refused to microsoft ? :)

  10. michel: please see the comments above about why microsoft is not using the word “free” properly in any sense

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