Microsoft Responds to Linux Lock-Out Claims

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 23, 2011

Yesterday, in the post "Will Windows 8 Lock Linux Out of PCs?," I discussed a Microsoft methodology for ultra-fast booting of Windows 8 PC through a specification called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). There have been a number of reports on how Microsoft might implement UEFI in such a way as to disallow Linux on PCs running Windows 8. I noted that it was unlikely that Microsoft would behave in such a two-fisted way toward Linux, and a new post from Microsoft responding to the brouhaha implies that's that true.

In a very extensive, graphics-laden post, Microsoft's Tony Mangefeste writes:

"Microsoft supports OEMs having the flexibility to decide who manages security certificates and how to allow customers to import and manage those certificates, and manage secure boot. We believe it is important to support this flexibility to the OEMs and to allow our customers to decide how they want to manage their systems."

UEFI does appear to make it technically possible for a hardware manufacturer to deliver a Windows 8 machine that won't boot an alternative operating system, but that's not the goal of UEFI, and Microsoft's position is that it won't make such decisions on behalf of hardware makers or customers. Here's the bottom line:

"At the end of the day, the customer is in control of their PC. Microsoft’s philosophy is to provide customers with the best experience first, and allow them to make decisions themselves...For the enthusiast who wants to run older operating systems, the option is there to allow you to make that decision."

As noted yesterday, the UEFI brouhaha is a tempest in a teapot. Microsoft cannot benefit from schemes that box out Linux or other operating systems, and virtualization and customization options will allow Windows 8 users to use multiple operating systems.