There has been much debate and arguments on the dual boot capabilities of the new Windows 8. The inclusion of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) to replace the age old BIOS has brought in much flak. The new firmware (UEFI) is inherently faster, flexible and offers advanced security features than BIOS ever did. The advanced security feature of the UEFI allows rootkits and malwares to be detected quickly at the boot time, thus ensuring a faster boot up time.
The secure boot option protects the PC by preventing infection of the bootloader. This is done by restricting unauthorized code from running on boot up. It is this advanced security feature that is now creating a lot of confusion on the possibilities of Microsoft locking out other platforms. Such Windows 8 problems occur since the UEFI looks for signed codes. The absence of such codes in Linux, or other platforms, including the older versions of Windows, creates trouble booting up systems with enabled secure boot.
The secure boot feature is turned on by default on Windows 8 PC, but it’s up to the hardware makers to decide whether to turn on or turn off that setting. The pros and cons of enabling or disabling the secure boot option would be weighed by the hardware makers but the truth is that some companies may not bother to give an option to toggle the secure boot option. This enhanced security feature is the one that makes Lenovo’s, Acer’s, Dell’s and Hp’s of the world to include this security in their systems. It is not in the interest of the aforementioned hardware makers to act in an irrational way to intentionally lock out Linux or other platforms.
Think UEFI and secure boot are Windows 8 problems exclusively?
This act from the Windows giant should be and is a way to reduce the risks posed by some serious malware from affecting your PC. After all, the number of Windows users that use Linux as a dual boot option is only 1 – 2%.
Thus, it all comes down to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to decide how the windows 8 problems related to the UEFI is handled. We won’t know for sure until the computers start to ship. There is also a hope that Linux Distributions takes steps to enable UEFI secure boot features. The next tricky part is acquiring the signed codes. So let’s all hope and understand that Microsoft’s move to include UEFI is not as draconian as is being portrayed, but, is only with the best intention of enhanced security for the users.