Microsoft Denies Locking out Linux Stories

There have been rumors that the secure boot of MS Windows 8 would replace BIOS with UEFI, thereby locking out Linux. This would even lock out the earlier linux-logoWindows versions from new computers. This rumor was disturbing for people who wanted both Windows and Linux on their systems. And since it wouldn’t allow other Windows versions, you couldn’t install other operating systems on the same computer. A real bummer indeed.

Rumors had it that Microsoft did this for security reasons. Secure boot helps avoiding unsigned code from running at boot time. There are many rootkits and malware that run at the time of startup, so this step would be good for security.

So anyway, those were the rumors that covered most of September. Microsoft has moved forward to defuse these rumors. As stated earlier, the concern mostly centered on the UEFI firmware that was used instead of BIOS. Among all the other features, there is a facility to lock the system via UEFI so that the OS needs to be signed digitally using secure boot.

Ross Anderson, the security engineering professor at Cambridge University raised doubts on the Light Blue Touch Paper Security blog, saying that getting mandatory UEFI support means unauthorized OS like FreeBSD and Linux cannot run on the system.

He also said that the extended monopoly of Microsoft’s operating system would be a blow, leading to a drastic downfall in customer choices, and increased locking in, thus giving way to lack of room for innovation. He said that this practice is clearly unethical and should be stopped.

Steven Sinofsky, chief at MS Windows, said that the secure boot of UEFI has been spanning rumors that are not true. He further explained what the UEFI can offer with the latest Windows version- Windows 8.

According to Tony Mangfeste, the ecosystem guy of Microsoft, secure boot does not lock out any OS loaders, but rather, it is a strategy that permits the firmware to validate the authenticity of various components. He added that their company does not control or mandate the settings on the computer firmware. Also, it does not enable secure boot from other operating systems except Windows.

The company posted a detailed description of Windows 8 next gen security support feature and the use of UEFI. It also reported that the users who want to run old operating systems, there is an option that lets you make the decision.

So basically, Microsoft is saying that ability to stop UEFI secure boot lies in the hands of the hardware manufacturer. If the UEFI feature is not disabled, other OS cannot run on the computer.

According to Prof. Anderson, Microsoft, along with some unspecified ‘others,’ are forcing the UEFI to come to the market as mandatory. But Microsoft denied doing that.

What’s true and what’s not? We can know that only once the Windows 8 will be launched. And we all are waiting for that day.

  • Clint

    Your article seems to be stating that this is a rumor, but from the various other articles I have read, it is a specification that Microsoft is requiring, not just a rumor. Microsoft seems to claim that all they are doing is requiring manufacturers to enable secure boot — a very innocent move. But they are a monopoly and not requiring manufacturers to also provide a mechanism for competitors to also use the hardware is why anti-trust laws are written. Monopolies use these kind of strategies to place the blame on others, abusing their monopolistic position. They say, "Don’t blame us — we are not locking anyone out," but they are not stupid, they know exactly the implications of what they do and don’t do! Remember they were required to provide a choice for users to install other browsers in Europe, even though they were not locking any of the competing browsers out. Their lack of providing choice was found to be an abuse of their monopolistic position. This is essentially the same thing.

  • http://enteryoursiteURL... suezz

    "There are many rootkits and malware that run at the time of startup, so this step would be good for security."

    They still think linux is viral. no matter what they new release they give.

    Sure it will be up to the vendors just like what os to ship is up to them – wink, wink,

    Does this really surprise anybody that microsoft is doing this? They haven’t changed and apparently DOJ or NO DOJ they never will change.

    microsoft is above the law – period end of story. welcome to the 21st century.

  • Stephen Green

    Oh I don’t know, this is MS at its best. Even putting its own business partners on the hot seat.
    Linux users will stop buying ‘new’ PCs. Like I have a couple of laptops that I won’t replace anytime soon. And when I do I’ll just go and buy one from a seller who has Linux installed. For me, it’s a no-brainer.

  • freerider7

    OMG!! How about "Windows Loader Daz" does it work any more?!

  • Cheap Air Max

    We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. 
    Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.
    If a jewel falls into the mire, it remains as precious as before; and though dust should ascend to heaven, its former worthlessness will not be altered.

  • Cheap Air Max

    i love it , i like this blog :)

  • http://enteryoursiteURL... The Ugly Truth

    Why no one sees the true story behind secure boot? IT simly cusotmer locking as Apple, Google have been doing this for years now on Mobiles. now this lockin is coming to the traditional x86 desktops and servers Even with the option to disable secure boot, MS will abuse the spec to only be be able to buy stuff from there app store. Once you diable secure boot, in the future MS will use to prevent you to install MS store apps, and when enabled to prevent you install non-MS store apps. . Why everyone is blind and fooled? ONLY THIS APP from THIS STORE, on THIS DEVICE…and when your device is gone.. Gone is everythnig you "owned… " and ofcourse MS will give a discount to OEM/ODM if theu ship with SB enabled or even better w/o the disable option… It’s all about GREED folks! so if you do not buy into this, start your own DIY shop…/ business to sell Linux…

  • Dainel

    "start your own DIY shop…/ business to sell Linux…’

    Opened mine up 3 years ago in Northwest Arkansas. I do repairs. refurbish systems for re-sale (loaded with Ubuntu), and recycle items I can’t reuse or re-purpose. Named the place Green Earth Computers. I’m exploiting our disposable society to obtain 95% of my inventory.