Apple will be laughing all the way to the bank – as if they need help from Microsoft
Concern is growing that Microsoft might be trying to pull a fast one. Windows 8, shipped with new PCs, is quite likely to lock out any other operating system on that PC. You can get more technical details from the blog of Matthew Garrett:
A system that ships with only OEM and Microsoft keys will not boot a generic copy of Linux.
UEFI secure booting
Ross Anderson also discusses the issue:
There seems to be an attempt to revive the “Trusted Computing” agenda. The vehicle this time is UEFI which sets the standards for the PC BIOS. Proposed changes to the UEFI firmware spec would enable (in fact require) next-generation PC firmware to only boot an image signed by a keychain rooted in keys built into the PC. I hear that Microsoft (and others) are pushing for this to be mandatory, so that it cannot be disabled by the user, and it would be required for OS badging.
Trusted Computing 2.0
But we needn’t worry, because EDRi points out that it would all be illegal in Europe:
This measure would be illegal according the EU competition law, such as article 102 of the EU Treaty, as it would give the possibility for a company to leverage a dominant position on one market (operating systems) in order to become dominant on another market (hardware).
Free operating systems might be blocked by Windows 8
Isn’t it reassuring (not – if you don’t recognise sarcasm) that the EU has such a strong record in enforcing its laws against big business. Apple will be rubbing its hands in glee with the thought that disgruntled PC users might flock to Mac and its Boot Camp software (which allows disk segregation to run Windows on the same system). Better still, if Microsoft persists with this idea, vote with your feet and migrate to Mac or Linux or anything that isn’t Microsoft.