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A BadVista at Microsoft's New York launch parties

by John Sullivan posted at 2007-01-30 00:00 last modified 2007-02-21 16:46 Copyright © 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

A common theme between the Microsoft Vista launch events that took place in major cities yesterday was the willingness to leave their customers out in the cold. In Toronto, they built an ice house (!) and conducted interviews inside it. In New York's Times Square, they kept their guests, including Vista beta-testers and journalists, waiting outside for hours in the freezing cold before admitting them to the theater to be “wowed”.

But despite the cold and the attempts to corral us into a tiny roped-off “free speech zone” hidden between two tour buses, DefectiveByDesign and BadVista activists were able to effectively communicate our message to all of the invitees waiting outside and to the many passersby in both Times Square and at the earlier nearby luncheon.

We talked to people and distributed literature about the dangers of Vista, DRM, Treacherous Computing and proprietary software. We distributed hundreds of CDs with free software for people to take home and try as an alternative to Vista.

We had a lot of people approach us—including many of the Microsoft event staff—to ask, “What's this all about?”

We did also raise our voice to be heard, shouting, “The OW Starts Now!” to counter the blaring signs proclaiming Microsoft's slogan, “The WOW Starts Now!”

We may not have Lebron James, Shaun Alexander, or other such celebrity software experts on our side, but judging from the reception we received from this crowd, people—once they know the details—are very concerned with Microsoft's attempted hoodwink masquerading as an “upgrade”, and are very willing to listen to us plain unfamous people.

Thanks to Kevin, John, David, Jeff, and everyone who sacrificed the circulation in their extremities to capitalize on this opportunity to be heard.

You can see more photos at

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The BadVista campaign, started in December 2006, advocated for the freedom of computer users, opposing adoption of Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free (as in freedom) software alternatives. It declared victory in January 2009, with supporters moving on to do the same work against Windows 7.

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