BadVista Declares Victory

Over two years ago, the FSF started its BadVista campaign with the goal of educating the public on problems related to software freedom, DRM, and more, with Microsoft’s latest operating system. Today, the FSF is declaring victory; the name "Vista" is synonymous in the public eye with failure.

The real credit, I suppose, should go to Microsoft. Vista’s design put the desires of big media companies, software companies, and Microsoft itself ahead of the desires of users. Vista defeated itself.

But the FSF’s campaign drew a huge amount attention to the problems with Vista — especially early on — and provided a central location aggregating and amplifying criticism of Vista. In doing so, the FSF played an important role in helping the whole process along and in balancing this criticism with a more positive message about free software alternatives.

Gratitude is due to the FSF staff, members, and supports who made BadVista a success. Please read the announcement, Digg the article, support the FSF, and follow its other work in its other campaigns so that all the FSF’s work can be as successful as BadVista.

12 thoughts on “BadVista Declares Victory”

  1. Indeed. Congratulations.

    This and the Apple-campaign were the reasons I will never again pay my membership fee nor donate any money to FSF.

    Keep up the good work. You keep distancing yourself both from the free software community and from the wider public. Congratulations.

  2. Oh! And Joseph: It’s always good to hear back about what members think of campaigns — positive or negative.

    The FSF will be planning new campaigns and this kind of feedback is useful in terms of helping choose what we’ll work on in the future. It’s useful to get feedback from anyone but it’s particularly useful to hear back from members.

  3. As you ask for, I will try a constructive criticism.

    By launching the BadVista campaign, the FSF has shown how disconnected they are with the reality of most people. By taking for granted a lot of technical knowledge most people don’t have, they failed in their education mission and were, at best, considered as “annoying”. The FSF completely failed to understand the average user of his computer whose primary task is “to use” it computer, not “to have a free computer”. But it last point can be generally applied to most (all?) FSF actions. They are just not in touch with the “Joe the plumber user”.

    By stigmatising one specific software in a manicheist vision of “good” and “bad”, they were directly hurting people feelings and sensibilies, gathering, at best, ignorance and, for those who care, angryness. When reading the BadVista website, they even succeeded to raise sympathy for the poor victim of all that badly written geek verbiology : Microsoft.

    Finallly, by promoting the negative aspects of one solution, they just didn’t raised awareness about any alternatives at all. You had to read the whole thing to find a reference to, guess what, gNewSense.

    I guess that there’s only one thing who was really good about that campaign : nobody ever talked about it (except some very few geeks) and the logo was just so awfully negative that nobody copied it. It’s a good thing for the FSF because if this campaign was a bit more popular, it would have impacted (negatively) a lot more the public image of the FSF.

    Finally, I’ve heard a lot of people, on the web and in real life, who decided to suspend their FSF donations just because of this campaign. I’ve heard a few real life friends who were considerating donating and who said, after discovering that : “everything but the FSF”. This is really sad.

  4. I think this says way more about the failures Microsoft made than anything the FSF did. In the consumer world, the complaints have to do with bad application ports, the UAC, and the crazy hardware requirements. They have little to do with the DRM or the closed-source, black-box design.

    Windows 7 is building on the failures of Vista in giving application developers more time to port, implementing the UAC fixes from Vista SP1, and hardware has since caught up with Vista, so speed won’t be as much of a factor. The new name even gets rid of the whole “but Vista sucks” association.

    In short, I’m not seeing a direct correlation between the FSF’s BadVista project and the public’s reaction.

  5. I agree with those who are critical of negative campaigning. I said as much in my own write-up. The best thing about BadVista was that that it paired a message that was critical of incursions on software freedom with a more positive message about software freedom.

    People were going to complain about Vista anyway, BadVista answered these complaints with a real alternative.

  6. Good bye to a stupid campaign.  Seriously, I’m an FSF member, but you don’t win people over by being negative.  Point out what’s important that they don’t currently see, how we rule, and perhaps a little smattering of why the competition sucks.  Point out why our hands are tied with respect to some things (e.g. why samba always lags Windows functionality and why vendor independence is important).

    That’ll be much more effective than merely “BadX”.

  7. I agree with Joseph.  Negative campaigning of any sort, in any realm, always reduces my opinion of the person or people doing it.  Succeed on your strengths, not others’ weaknesses.

  8. This is sad. Just sad. The BadVista campaign was a horribly failing campaign. It didn’t reach anyone who didn’t already hate Vista. All it did was rally existing troops.

    Further, Vista’s failure had nothing to do with this miserable campaign, and everything to do with the fact that XP was head and shoulders over Vista. Haven’t you heard Vista being compared to XP as Millennium Edition was compared to 98se?

    If this truly is a success for the Free Software Foundation, then what would classify as a failure? I’m with Jospeh on this, and probably many others in the same boat- “Good bye to a stupid campaign.”

  9. “We have not yet convinced all Windows users or even all Vista users to switch to a fully free operating system like gNewSense.”

    I don’t know what to say to this. I love free software, but, wow…

    I’m guessing more people disliked Vista by comparing it to their experiences with XP, Win2K or 98 than anything else. Including Macs.

    Looks like gNewSense is #73 on Distrowatch today. Not that’s any indicator of market share or anything.

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