The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is asking Microsoft to 'upcycle' Windows 7 and allow the community to continue to improve it after its end of life.
"On January 14th, Windows 7 reached its official 'end-of-life,' bringing an end to its updates as well as its ten years of poisoning education, invading privacy, and threatening user security," says the FSF in a petition published on its website.
The end of Windows 7's lifecycle gives Microsoft the perfect opportunity to undo past wrongs, and to upcycle it instead."
The non-profit organization, founded by Richard Stallman in 1985 to support and promote the free software movement, wants Redmond to give its EoL OS to the community, to be studied and improved upon.
In support of this demand, the FSF uses the release of the Microsoft Calculator app as open-source on GitHub under MIT license.
These are FSF's and its supporters' demands to the Microsoft executives:
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 strongarm 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.
FSF wants 7,777 supporters to sign their petition and, at the moment, the petition's page shows that enough people are already behind it.
Microsoft: Windows 10 is the way to go
Windows 7 reached end of support on January 14, almost two weeks ago, a decade after its initial release, with Microsoft no longer providing users with fixes, software updates, or security updates.
Out of Windows' current 77% market share, over 26% are Windows 7 users amounting to hundreds of millions of people who can't let go of the decade-old OS because they don't like Windows 10 or are scared of the change.
While Redmond says that Windows 7 reached its end of life, the company is definitely not willing to let it go for free as it still draws revenue from millions of Windows 7 enterprise users via the Extended Security Update (ESU) program.
As Microsoft currently says on its support website, "for customers requiring more time to move to the latest product, the Extended Security Update (ESU) program is available for certain legacy products as a last resort option.
The ESU program provides security updates only for up to 3 years, after the End of Support date. Contact your account manager, partner or device manufacturer for more information."
Windows 7 market share (StatCounter)
In addition, Microsoft also uses the EoL OS as a stepping stone to its latest Windows version as it advises customers still using Windows 7 to "upgrade to a modern operating system such as Windows 10, which can provide the latest security updates to help keep you and your data safer."
Redmond is also displaying full-screen notifications on Windows 7 devices since January 15 to remind users that their OS is no longer supported and that they should upgrade it to the latest Windows 10 version.
Free Windows 10 upgrades are also still a thing although Microsoft says that this only worked until July 29, 2016 — here's a step by step Windows 10 upgrade procedure involving the Media Creation Tool and choosing the 'Upgrade this PC now' option on your Windows 7 computer.
To top it all off, while FSF is asking Microsoft to release Windows 7 as free software, Windows XP is still closed-source proprietary commercial software although it has been released almost two decades ago, in October 2001.
So the long answer is that Microsoft will not release Windows 7 as free software no matter how much some might want this to happen. The short answer? No!