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What Is the Right Way to Upgrade an Installation of Windows?

by Richard Stallman

It is commonplace in the computing field to urge users to “upgrade” to newer versions of Windows (and other nonfree programs) so as to get fixes for “security.” This conclusion follows from the assumption that these programs are honest software, designed to treat the user right. We do not expect that to be the case, and we know it is not the case for Windows. Therefore, we make a different recommendation.

In fact, newer versions of Windows have exploits before they are released. They are designed with various kinds of malicious functionalities; see “Microsoft's Software is Malware.”

Newer Windows versions contain added malicious functionalities; they give Microsoft more power over the users. That is a reason not to switch to a newer version. For some users, switching to a newer version may require rewarding Microsoft with money and even buying a new computer. We hardly want to encourage that!

Therefore we decline to support Microsoft by urging users to move to newer versions; we do not treat the unintentional flaws of Windows as more important than the intentional ones.

Our advice to those using any version of Windows is to upgrade to GNU/Linux.

Supporting GNU packages on any version of Windows (or any non-GNU-like systems) is not part of the GNU Project's core mission. Our slogan is, “It runs best on GNU/Linux.” We cooperate with the users who wish to maintain that support, because we may as well cooperate when it is not difficult. We have no responsibility to continue doing so, but as long as it is feasible and not holding us back, we have no reason to stop.

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