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11.18.12

Vista 8 is Not Selling, But Microsoft’s UEFI Scheme Blocks Linux Installations/Booting

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Plan B: block GNU/Linux

Empty shop

Summary: How protectionist plots help impede migrations to GNU and Linux distributions, especially now that Windows is a sordid mess

Since the major news about Sinofsky's departure we have been seeing a lot of bad news, including lawsuits over deceptive marketing:

None of this was enough for one guy, however, as Andrew Sokolowski is now suing Microsoft claiming that Microsoft is misrepresenting the device. While he’s seeking class action status, unlike many class action lawsuits that are all about money, it’s actually nice to see that he’s not seeking any money — just asking Microsoft to stop misrepresenting the product.

According to other news, Vista 8 sales are poor. Microsoft Paul, a booster of the company, says:

Windows 8 Sales Well Below Projections, Plenty of v to Go Around

Sales of Windows 8 PCs are well below Microsoft’s internal projections and have been described inside the company as disappointing. But here’s the catch: The software giant blames the slow start on lackluster PC maker designs and availability, further justifying its new Surface strategy. But Windows 8’s market acceptance can be blamed on many factors.

A PR mouthpiece, whom Microsoft bribes, blames everyone but Microsoft, shifting blame mostly to OEMs. So what do the OEMs say?

HP’s “Todd Bradley says the tablet tends to be slow, is expensive, and is getting more attention than it deserves,” says this report about the flagship product:

Hewlett-Packard isn’t overly impressed with Microsoft’s Surface tablet.

Speaking in an interview published yesterday with IDG Enterprise, HP PC business chief Todd Bradley said that his company could “hardly call Surface competition,” adding that the Microsoft-branded tablet is quite flawed.

“One, very limited distribution,” Bradley said, listing what he feels are the Surface’s greatest flaws. “It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as you use it….It’s expensive. Holistically, the press has made a bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to believe.”

This is Vista all over again. HP complained about it. Hewlett-Packard’s Chief Executive Mark Hurd said to Ballmer: “Steve, I’m sure you’re aware of this. Our call lines are being overrun.” [by Vista complaints]

Vista still is a mess for those who use it. To quote a new rant:

Installing Vista SP2 is like dousing a burning turd

All that Microsoft can really do now is block Linux, which it managed to do on some hardware. Red Hat should have complained, not played along with UEFI. Look where we are now:

This is, obviously, bizarre. A vendor appears to have actually written additional code to check whether an OS claims to be Windows before it’ll let it boot. Someone then presumably tested booting RHEL on it and discovered that it didn’t work. Rather than take out that check, they then addded another check to let RHEL boot as well. We haven’t yet verified whether this is an absolute string match or whether a prefix of “Red Hat Enterprise Linux” is sufficient, and further examination of the code may reveal further workarounds. For now, if you want to run Fedora[2] on these systems you’re probably best off changing the firmware to perform a legacy boot.

As Michael Larabel explains, Red Hat is doing something selfish like Novell once did, and here is where we end up:

It turns out that for at least one of Lenovo’s computer models, their UEFI implementation is explicitly checking for Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux and refusing to boot the UEFI-installed system if neither operating system is reported.

While initially it sounded like yet another SecureBoot issue with Linux, Matthew Garrett investigated and found that the UEFI on the Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p desktop was explicitly checking for the presence of “Windows Boot Manager” and “Red Hat Enterprise Linux” upon installing an UEFI-supported operating system. If the UEFI sees either string within the firmware’s descriptive string, the UEFI won’t let the system load.

Canonical and Red Hat should complain to antitrust authorities. They oughtn’t rely on fair play with UEFI. Vista 8 is failing very badly, but a lot of hardware is being built these days to only run Windows. This is an injustice that must not be tolerated. Microsoft also uses software patents to suppress GNU/Linux adoption.

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3 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    November 18, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Gravatar

    You are still whining about Vista. LOL! Vista came out in 2009. Move on already.

    Windows 8 is a bit of a UI nightmare… it gives the competition an opening (yes, as Vista did). Apple capitalized on the opening before… now we shall see if the open source community can get their act together and get desktop Linux into a good enough state to compete with a bad release of Windows. If they can you will no doubt see HP and Dell making a lot more sales of desktop Linux systems.

    I hope this happens. I think it would be great. But I am not holding my breath.

  2. mcinsand said,

    November 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Gravatar

    One thing that MS is doing well over in the US is a serious, constant, and aggressive advertising campaign. The last publicly-welcomed OS that MS released was over a decade ago. Windows 7 is really only tolerated, and only then because it isn’t the trainwreck of the Alpha version (Vista). Then again, Windows 7 did pick up my time consumed in helping friends jump to FOSS.

    Although the new ad campaign is done well, the desperation is still definitely there. MS desperately needs a release that is not a flop. This isn’t it, and it could help to further usher-in a world that expects performance and a degree of freedom/choice. In other worlds, a post MS, post Apple world. The duopoly needs MS to continue with the majority share in order to defend the status quo. Otherwise, users will look for (and find) better options. When most people simply used Windows because most people used Windows, there was a bit of safety… as long as FOSS was only a thin slice of the market share. The perception was of only two real options: economy with poor reilibility or reliability with poor economy. With both, performance was sadly compromised. As MS’ market share drops, more and more will realize that they can fork over more cash for an overpriced, underperforming Macintoy, but that won’t be the majority. Most don’t like licenses that amount to technological straightjackets, and most don’t want to overpay for what they get. Furthermore, most people actually like choices (although I have had cultmembers assert that the advantage of the Apple is that they don’t have to worry with having choices for what they might like best). As options build, and especially as MS deflates, Apple has three monstrous disadvantages from the starting gate. If Windows 8 doesn’t save Windows, then it will definitely also be a massive hit to Apple.

    Michael Reply:

    Both Win XP and Win 7 were well received… unlike Vista and, it seems, Win 8. Not sure what made you think otherwise. And all of those did better than *free* alternatives… which have not earned their place on the desktop in any significant way.

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