Friday, February 17, 2012

Windows 8 Secure Boot

Over the last few days it has emerged that Windows 8 ARM computers, be it tablet, laptop, or possibly even desktop form factor, will be locked down and unable to run any other operating systems. This is in strong contrast to x86 Windows 8 PCs, which Microsoft has mandated must be able to run other operating systems.

If you haven’t been following this fracas since it first started to emerge last year, it’s all to do with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface)— a long overdue replacement for BIOS ( basic input-output system) — and a feature called Secure Boot. In essence, Secure Boot stops a computer from loading an operating system that hasn’t been signed by the publisher (in this case, Microsoft or an OEM or original equipment manufacturer), and its signature added to the computer’s firmware. On an x86 Windows 8 computer, you’ll be able to sign your own operating systems (custom builds for Linux, for example), or disable Secure Boot entirely. On Windows 8 ARM computers, neither of these options will be available: You’ll have official builds of Windows 8, and that’s it.

Now, as you can imagine, tech pundits and open source rabble-rousers alike have been raising hell over this little tidbit. How dare Microsoft lock down its devices! Hasn’t Redmond ever heard of consumer rights? Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net anti-trust lawsuit round two, ding ding! And so on.

No comments:

Post a Comment