What is all of this nonsense about freedom and power anyway? Richard Stallman, who has left the realm of computer science and actual consumer markets and migrated to religion, wants the ability to do whatever he wants to his BIOS. Well good for him, but what does that have to do with consumers? I can't get computer users to find the power button, and this guy wants people to have access to their BIOS? Good God, I'm a developer and I don't care about the BIOS, or even the innards of Windows for that matter. Thanks, but I'll gladly plop down my $80 for Microsoft to figure out how to build an OS for me.
The whole notion that Microsoft is inherently evil is stupid. Stallman says he wants to "escape" from the evil companies. Huh? If you have to escape from something, that implies you're trapped. Anyone here feel that their computer has trapped them? Sure, I could use open source software, but there isn't anything I can't do with my Windows computer or my iBook. Seeing as how I'm a developer, and I have higher demands than John Q. Consumer, I'd say that's far from being trapped. Even my parents, running Windows 95, seem to be able to do whatever they need.
And that's where Stallman doesn't get it. The market dictates what it needs, and companies make products to meet those needs. The open source folks are like a loosely coupled company too, and if they'd spend less time waving their flags and find leadership that can stand up and say, "Hey, the market needs this," then we'd all be using Linux and Microsoft would be shaking in its boots.
Here's a newsflash... every year computers and other devices become less about geeks and more about everyone. The success of things like the iPod came about because it solved a problem and a pre-schooler could use it. Linux has had no impact on the desktop because the average person can't install it and can't maintain it. I'm not suggesting that a Windows install is easy and flawless, but your chances sure are better with it.
Imagine for a moment that consumers could change the firmware on their toasters or refrigerators. Do you think anyone would care? Of course not! The market reality is that people don't care about the innards of a machine, and computers are becoming more and more like that every year. Consumers want it to turn on and work. Gates has been saying for years that people want stuff that just works (so has Jobs, for that matter). If you can do that better than Microsoft and Intel/AMD, then I'll use your product.
Until then, keep the religion in church and come back to market reality.