Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd Nov 2011 19:34 UTC, submitted by lucas_maximus
Hardware, Embedded Systems A big issue right now in the world of operating systems - especially Linux - is Microsoft's requirement that all Windows 8 machines ship with UEFI's secure boot enabled, with no requirement that OEMs implement it so users can turn it off. This has caused some concern in the Linux world, and considering Microsoft's past and current business practices and the incompetence of OEMs, that's not unwarranted. CNet's Ed Bott decided to pose the issue to OEMs. Dell stated is has plans to include the option to turn secure boot off, while HP was a bit more vague about the issue.
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Microsoft could solve this, but chose not to
by zztaz on Fri 4th Nov 2011 00:38 UTC
zztaz
Member since:
2006-09-16

Secure booting is a good idea, if implemented well. But there is a possibility that poorly conceived implementations could lock us out of our own hardware.

Microsoft has a logo program which provides OEMs with incentive to include secure booting. There's nothing wrong with that - in isolation. I welcome a world where Windows users are protected from a nasty form of malware. I don't need to run Windows to benefit from fewer compromised Windows systems; less spam would be nice.

But secure booting does not exist in isolation. It exists in a world where Microsoft has a history of using unscrupulous and often illegal means to suppress competition. This has harmed everyone, including Microsoft, in my opinion. Microsoft has long had the ability to compete on the basis of product quality and value. When they have chosen to twist arms instead, their products have stagnated.

This happens with every company that takes the largest market share. IBM ruled the mainframe world, and that left them vulnerable to minicomputers. It's easy to overlook future opportunities when you are focused on your present success. DEC did the same thing; they grabbed the commanding share of minicomputers, and they missed workstations and personal computers. IBM was so late to personal computers that they chose to come out with one using off-the-shelf processors and operating systems from third parties, to our great benefit. GM was the largest auto maker, Western Union could deliver messages anywhere quickly, and so on. Success breed complacency, and eventual decline.

OEMs have sufficient reason to ensure that their systems can boot Windows securely. Server makers probably have reason to ensure secure booting of other operating systems. But there isn't enough incentive to make sure that laptops and desktops boot anything other than Windows, and perhaps even only the version of Windows that shipped with the system. Even Windows users should be concerned, if you want to upgrade in the future.

Microsoft could change their logo program to include a requirement that end users have the ability to install their own boot keys. Windows would stay secure. Most users would ignore this ability.

Microsoft could solve this, but they haven't. They know that they haven't specifically required OEMs to deliver Windows-only systems, so they're off the legal hook. But they haven't prevented OEMs from delivering Windows-only systems, either, and they don't seem to be willing to take that simple step.

Microsoft is very, very good at these sorts of games, and they are very good at suckering the gullible into repeating their spin.

Edited 2011-11-04 00:40 UTC

Reply Score: 4