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UEFI Secure Boot
monopolism/protectionism : a new evil and how to defeat it
One of the problems which Microsoft has in trying to maintain a grasp of the PC market is that it is up against rivals (business competitors) such as Linux, which make better products, cheaper. The Linux operating system is more powerful, more secure, more efficient, and generally better than Microsoft Windows (any version), so what can Microsoft do about it? Well, the current "plan" seems to be to enforce rules which could in effect banish the competition! No more Linux!
The idea is for Microsoft to be able to distort the design of the PC such that customers will have no choice, as Microsoft will be the only operating system that will run, would surely easily eliminate Microsoft's problem of business competition. Quite simply, the superior but cheaper rivals would not be allowed to have their software run on the PC, as the PC would become a "Microsoft-only PC".
Microsoft have tried this before, when they tried to apply an abusive monopoly of the Internet Browser market, but the European Fair Competition Commission outlawed this monopolistic move, and so Microsoft is now compelled to compete, on fair terms, with the other browser manufacturers, letting customers choose for themselves!
However, with the proposals as observed at 2nd October 2011, PC hardware (motherboards) would be monopolised such that they would only be able to run Microsoft Windows. Plus, they would (in effect) self-destruct after a period, thus forcing the customer into paying for a new computer AND a new version of the further crippled Microsoft operating system. There would be a considerable environmental impact, but do they care about that?
How did this happen?
Well, it started with UEFI, which is the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. This started out being a good idea, and it replaced the BIOS. Then, UEFI had a feature included known as the Secure Boot. This, of itself, is not evil. However, what Microsoft did with it (to it) was to insist that "for the purposes of Windows 8 Certification", the UEFI must have Microsoft protectionist keys. Linux can't have these, and so, in a matter-of-fact way, Microsoft has banished Linux from running on the PC.
Of course the motherboard hardware manufacturers should include a switch to allow this awkward feature to be turned off. It's in their good business interests to allow more competition between operating-system makers.
But what if they don't?
Well, some will and some won't. The ones that don't include a switch will in effect have a product which is disposable, like those cheap throw-away cameras were. Their rivals that include a switch will have a re-taskable reusable recyclable product, whereas the disposable boards will in landfill. Customers seeing this will hopefully have the good sense to make a better choice next time.
The problem is, having seen the conspiracy to support Microsoft, and the cluelessness by which many customers become victim to bad practises in a bad market, it is plausible that Microsoft might be able to pull off this stunt and get away with monopolising the PC market, without merit.
Here are a few other pages expressing the problem of the UEFI Secure Boot....
What are we going to do about it?
Here are a few things to consider about the reshaped market:
* It will still be possible to get PC motherboards which are without the restrictions. If you're buying a computer, for example from these places that sell computers, insist that the motherboard can have UEFI Secure Boot switched off! If they say no, don't buy it!
* It may be possible to hack into the boards and replace the existing UEFI with something that actually allows you to run software of your choice on your machine. Hacking into hardware is often possible. Look at what happened about the Sky Digibox (previously thought to be worthless). Even the CueCat, (total protectionist hardware) was neutered!
* The non-reusability of "bricked" PC boards may yet come back to haunt the manufacturers. This is an environmental issue. Plus, in some legislative regimes, buyers have a right to have goods properly described. If you ask "Can this computer run Linux?" and the salesperson says "Yes", and the computer fails, you have a right to your money back! So, whether you would like to run Linux or not, it's best to ask "Can this computer run Linux?" and then you are making sure the machine is not going to end up prematurely in landfill because it has a Microsoft UEFI Secure Boot catastrophic failure.
Further note: Do not believe any nonsense that the UEFI Secure Boot has anything to do with security! Microsoft is full of holes. See viruses. UEFI or no, it will still be full of holes. The best thing Microsoft could do for security is to give up. Linux, in contrast, is much more secure.
Update: If a Windows PC fails, it could end up dead, or "bricked". It would be easy for virus-writers to create virus programs that cause a Microsoft Windows PC to hang-up. Normally, it would be recovered by resetting the computer and mending things. However, if the equivalent of the BIOS can't be reset, then that computer is dead. Customers won't be happy about that. Also, it's an astonishing fact that most Windows rescue discs are based on Linux, so if they don't work anymore because of Microsoft's stupid "security", then the computer could be unrecoverable.