John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Spanish Linux Group Files EC Complaint Over Windows 8 Secure Boot

Microsoft’s European antitrust woes continue to be something of a neverending story for the company. Earlier this month the European Commission slapped Redmond with $732 million in sanctions for its failure to comply with the terms of an antitrust settlement requiring it to offer consumers a choice of Web browsers. Now a Spanish open source software association has filed a complaint against Microsoft with the EC accusing the software giant of preventing consumers from installing alternative operating systems on Windows 8 computers.

Brought by Linux group Hispalinux, the complaint claims Windows 8’s UEFI Secure Boot — a feature designed to protect Win 8 machines by only booting operating systems signed with a trusted certificate — is really just an anticompetitive “obstruction mechanism.”

“[UEFI Secure Boot] is a de facto technological jail for computer booting systems,” Hispalinux said in its complaint. “[It makes] Microsoft’s Windows platform less neutral than ever.”

Harsh words, but are they valid? Tough to say. UEFI Secure Boot clearly makes it more difficult to run anything other than Windows on Windows machines. That said, back in February the Linux Foundation in collaboration with Microsoft did release some software that enables Linux to work with machines running the UEFI. It’s not a perfect solution by any means. But it is a solution. And, as Microsoft has repeatedly noted, UEFI Secure Boot can be disabled. “We designed the firmware to allow the customer to disable secure boot,” Microsoft’s Tony Mangefeste wrote in a February blog post. “However, doing so comes at your own risk.”

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

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