Microsoft Locks Out Linux On ARM Systems Shipping Windows 8 - HotHardware
Microsoft Locks Out Linux On ARM Systems Shipping Windows 8

Microsoft Locks Out Linux On ARM Systems Shipping Windows 8

It's been a few years since Microsoft really shot itself in the foot by making itself look really unfriendly, and someone at the company must've been missing the pain. A careful read of the company's "Windows 8 Hardware Certification Requirements" document has revealed draconian policies that require vendors to block the installation of other operating systems on ARM devices.

First, a bit of history. Earlier this fall, Microsoft briefly made waves when it announced that Windows 8 would require that UEFI (the successor to BIOS) Secure Boot be enabled on all systems that ship with Windows 8 installed. Secure Boot uses vendor-provided signed keys to ensure that the OS in question has been properly validated. The concern was that this process could be used to effectively prevent the installation of Linux on ARM products.

Microsoft responded to these allegations with a substantial blog entry on the UEFI standard and how Secure Boot works, but the company's response to fears that it would prevent non-MS OS's from running was answered as follows: "Microsoft does not mandate or control the settings on PC firmware that control or enable secured boot from any operating system other than Windows."

And so it doesn't -- as long as we're talking about x86 hardware. The document in question states: "On non-ARM systems, it is required to implement the ability to disable the Secure Boot via firmware setup." It then goes on to say (on Page 116): "Disabling Secure MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems."


We don't WANNA play fair!

There's no technical reason why MS would support disabling Secure Boot for one CPU architecture but enabling it for another, which leaves us with non-technical justifications -- of which there are plenty. By locking out alternate OS's, MS ensures that Windows customers stay Windows customers.

Such a condition would never fly in the x86 world, where MS is the dominant vendor. In handhelds, however, Microsoft only supplies a tiny fraction of the overall market. The company is obviously hoping it can lock out the threat of Android competition by preventing the installation of other operating systems. It's not so different from the early 90s, when Microsoft attempted to force OEMs to purchase a Windows license for every system they shipped, even if the box didn't utilize a Microsoft operating system.

In September, when this issue first arose, MS issued a long statement justifying its response and noting that the Secure Boot feature was part of the UEFI standard. We can't wait to see the company's justification this time around. After years of (fairly) good behavior, Microsoft had begun to build a reputation as a company that legitimately played nice with others. After this, it seems a time out is in order.
0
+ -

What's that smell? Why, it's an anti-trust lawsuit!

They never learn.

0
+ -

RTietjens:
What's that smell? Why, it's an anti-trust lawsuit! They never learn.

This exactly.

They'll be sued, and then there will be a fix to fix their fix soonest.

 

0
+ -

What anti-trust?

Exactly. I don't know what the fuss is about. MS has near 0% market share in ARM smartphone and tablets. The market is already dominated by Apple and Android. Consumers have PLENTY of choice with regards to non-Windows ARM devices.

Sure it's anti-competitive, but the whole point of capitalism is to be anti-competitive. Anti-competitive behaviour is only a problem if you have a monopoly. With MS having 0 marketshare and a vast ecosystem of alternatives available, only an idiot would by a Win8 tablet to install another OS, full well knowing before hand that it won't be possible to.

Anti-trust only applies when consumers have no alternatives. Please have a look around and tell me we have no alternatives? If consumers don't want a W8 ARM tablet, they can always go an iPad, the dominant player, or an Android tablet, with a small marketshare but still by a large percentage bigger than what MS currently has.

0
+ -

thing is if we want linux and windows on the same device we can't we'd have to have a seperate device for each operating system... not very economical.

0
+ -

Well, running both Windows and Linux is not something everyone wants to do. It's usually one or the other, while ARM is still a long way from replacing x86 for all traditional PC usage scenarios.

While this won't stop people from doing things like running Linux in VM on a Windows 8 ARM system. You may also be able to boot a network linux. Along with possibly having two systems on the same device...

0
+ -

riddle me this batman why would anyone want linux on a windows operated and designed device? i dont understand this love for an operating system that has done almost nothing to further or improve computer quality in the last ten years.

yea sure there is the fact that you can do more if you know the code its written in so great go ahead or be a real programmer and use a real programming language.

0
+ -

I hope the board of Microsoft realises that what it is doing is illegal under both US and EU law, and its members face heavy fines and long prison sentences for what they are doing.

What it is doing is effectively imposing a rootkit on hardware, which only differs from a criminal piece of vicious malware in that it is sponsored by a supposedly responsible public company.

The US DoD has abandoned Windows for flying its drones because of malware which resulted in the loss of a drone over Iran.

-1
+ -

*sigh* UEFI is not a rootkit. Secure boot is not a rootkit. It's nothing even close to a rootkit.

There's nothing wrong with UEFI or Secure Boot. The problem is that MS is demanding OEM's lock customers away from installing another OS. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the mechanisms in question.

0
+ -

Totally messed up of MS to require OEMs to lock users away from installing another OS. I guess it is even more of a reason to build my own system. I could understand if there was a setting in the UEFI Bios to turn off secure boot.

+1
+ -

Manufacturers may not listen to what we say all that often, (lord knows that Microsoft could care less about us) but they'll listen to ~not selling~ crippled ARM products as fast as they want to.

       Wilted Flower Just don't buy them. Wilted Flower

Or, if one company starts to make them without this crap Super Angry built in to them, buy from them only!

Manufacturers always listen to their bottom line,........

0
+ -

Thing is that's the reason why they're doing it!

Thanks to all the pirating of software and media content has created a culture of paranoia among businesses and they want assurances that their bottom line gets protected. Otherwise forget about HD content and access to the good pay for apps because they don't trust ARM to be secure enough without those strict security measures.

Examples like the Netflix HD app already exist for Android, where if you remove the security or install the app on a non-secure system then it will only stream the SD quality streams.

0
+ -

Bunch of Tree Weasles. People need to push back. All it will take. If I buy a system and I want to get rid of your crap GUI I expect to be able to. All we have to do is go back to that wonderful example of a carboard box gone to waste by looking at Windows Millenium. Office Depot or Office Max or Staples (hell they are all the same to me) was giving away a free plastic watch with the Operating System. The best thing about it was that watch. Bill Gates could have pooped in the box and it would have been better. Take my power away to put anything I want on a box you might as well get Bill Gates lined up with some heavy fiber to take another crap in the box.

0
+ -

There are only three outcomes here.

1) MS changes its requirements.

2) MS doesn't change requirements. Vendors that ship Windows 8 ARM solutions ship them locked (no installing other operating systems)

3) MS doesn't change its requirements. Someone ships an unlocked solution and gets the pants sued off them.

#3 isn't going to happen. If you want to protest this decision, do so at the Windows 8 blog, or do it right here. The burden shouldn't be on manufacturers to buck the demand -- not when the consequences of doing so are so enormous.

0
+ -

This is so typical and so scary and disappointing. Anti-trust and unfair.

0
+ -

Sure its illegal but if falls enough into the gray area that with enough money it will go away. This is terrible news for smaller companies. I see the point but I mean its counter productive especially when any money from any market dominance will be thrown right back in to protecting their butts from a lawsuit. Also it wont help withing in a month skidrow/ etremezone or other cracker will have the problem fixed. So they invest tons of money into this feature and in the end it wont help customers or themselves cause any extra earning went straight to the lawyers.

+1
+ -

I don't know what everyone is up in the air about on this they are just following the successful model that Apple has laid out for them. on ARM apparently they can at least try to control the hardware they allow Windows 8 to install on.

0
+ -

Digital,

There's no comparison. Apple manufacturers its own hardware. You buy an Apple, you buy into their product, built their way, with their restrictions. Microsoft licenses its operating systems to a variety of third parties.

0
+ -

I disagree, it doesn't matter whether or not Apple builds its own hardware or not. If you buy into Apple or Microsoft - that's what you are buying, don't expect support for any other OS. You want to run something else, then buy a system that runs Linux, Android, or whatever.

Or build your own.

Plenty of companies out there sell bare bones systems, and I'm sure that in time ARM processors will find their way into them, and then you can install your OS of choice.

0
+ -

Not that it's important but Apple doesn't actually manufacture most its own hardware, they license and patent designs and then have other companies, like Foxconn, do the actual manufacturing.

While software companies can and have required restrictions be made on the systems they get installed on. Take the HD Netflix app for example, it's the reason why the Nook Tablet came with a locked bootloader to satisfy DRM concerns and that's with a Android OS.

Anyway, this will likely only effect Linux as they have a more strict open source requirement. While Google is more flexible and willing to go the certified route, as those devices with locked bootloaders already show.

0
+ -

Don't they realize they're just opening themselves up to more and more lawsuits by doing this. Sorry MS but not everyone buys a PC just to use Windows.

0
+ -

I think people aren't realizing there is a difference between the ARM and x86 markets. ARM is partly by design intended for custom solutions that don't need to support multiple configurations.

E-Book Readers, Smart Phones, even Tablets, etc can be single purpose and they don't need to allow you easy way to change it. In other words they aren't PC's in the traditional sense.

So like it or not MS has the right to impose limitations on a ARM release that would not be allowable on a traditional PC.

This really isn't any different from say B&N locking the bootloader of the Nook Tablet because the HD Netflix app requires it for DRM concerns. Otherwise the app will only allow you to view SD streams.

While nothing is stopping you from still buying a Android device and installing linux if you so wish. The requirement is only for systems that come with Windows 8 pre-installed.

It's not like all ARM devices will only be sold with Windows 8 after all and those others will likely be sold cheaper than the Windows 8 versions anyway.

0
+ -

ARM is partly by design intended for custom solutions that don't need to support multiple configurations.

That's the way things have historically been. The question is, why should they stay that way? Why should your choice of CPU architecture define your platform freedom?

0
+ -

Because that's also why ARM can be made cheaper, they don't have to be multi-purpose and so can be streamlined for an intended purpose.

Mind the ARM market also has users buying new versions of the hardware at a much faster rate than traditional PC's. You can buy a new laptop once every 2-5 years and not mind. Desktop users can keep the same system for up to over a decade in some cases.

Smart Phone and Tablets though is more like every six months to maybe a year or two before you're completely out of date and have to upgrade.

So we're talking about very different market dynamics that Windows is trying to get into. Remember too, because of the difference between ARM and x86, MS is already giving up on supporting legacy programs and ARM doesn't yet have enough extra performance to really justify a work around like VM. Though next gen Cortex A15 may change this but till then MS also has to worry about being efficient on ARM.

Since it's not just ARM that helps make ARM devices so energy efficient but the OS and apps too must support those power saving systems and traditional desktop OS do not do so. Background processes for example are always running in a desktop OS and that would keep the system from ever fully idling. Giving another reason not to support legacy programs on top of the difficulty of getting them to run on ARM.

ARM would also start losing it's power efficiency advantage if it had to support multiple configurations/uses. Like one of the reasons Apple was able to get over 10 hours run time for the iPad is because they stripped out everything the iPad would never use, like USB port support, etc.

Even for traditional PC systems, chips made specifically for tablets cut out unnecessary hardware support. Like the AMD Z-01 is basically a stripped down version of the C-50, supporting fewer monitor resolutions, only one of each port type, etc.

So without that customization then ARM will start losing some of the features that make it more desirable for the mobile market than x86 solutions, and remember Intel is already starting to close the gap and may get seriously close to ARM standards by next year.

Meanwhile, ARM is only starting to achieve a performance level in the Intel ATOM range for CPU performance. So running a desktop OS is not going to be as fluid as it would be on a more powerful system. So MS also has to consider optimizing the probability of their OS performing well with minimal hardware support until they're sure Windows 8 will be a success, on top of the other reasons already suspected.

0
+ -

Have most of you guys never heard of the iPad? The iPad, too, has a locked bootloader and will not load an unsigned operating system. Ditto the PlayBook, Nook, Kindle Fire, most Galaxy Tabs, and the Asus Transformer Prime... I'm not seeing the issue here.

0
+ -

this is just ridiculous.Microsoft wants linux out as they see more and more users are using linux .they dont want challenge later O_o

1 2 Next
Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: