EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.02.12

Guest Post: UEFI’s Effects on the User

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Vista 8 at 10:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows 8 book

Summary: A contributor’s take and set of thoughts about Microsoft’s latest anti-competitive tactic

Did you know, Microsoft Press (A Division of Microsoft Corporation) has published a Windows 8 book as PDF, titled “Inside Out Windows 8”. The ultimate, in-depth reference Hundreds of timesaving solutions Supremely organized, packed with expert advice Companion eBook (744 pages 34.2 MB)

However, the one and only section (page 25) on UEFI “Secure Boot” doesn’t mention how it functions, works or operates, how to access it or any interoperability. No mention on how to even disable Secure Boot at all.

Such as the undocumented steps below;

1. Boot machine while pressing F10

2. Find Secure Boot in the menu tree, ignore warnings

3. Disable Secure Boot feature

4. Enable legacy boot options

5. Enable specific legacy devices, such as USB devices

6. Save and reboot while holding down F9

Book shot

(No mention in Chapter 27!)

I want to point out there is NO such thing as “Windows Hardware” because Microsoft does NOT manufacture Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, Acer, Asus, MSI, VIA, HP, Dell, Celvo, Sager, etc…

This is Microsoft extending its own brand (software) upon firmware, claiming it’s their platform. Why do the manufactures accept this theft of their hardware product?

Why doesn’t someone write to the European Court of Justice and file a complaint?

Regarding how UEFI Secure Boot has the side effect of preventing interoperability against competitors and open society by preventing unauthorized firmware, operating systems, or UEFI drivers from running at boot time unless they bear a cryptographic signature by Microsoft, the manufacturer or an UEFI signing key vendor ($99 for an UEFI signing key) for any software that modifies the bootloader that enforces the UEFI secure boot protocol.

Basically, the bootloader is the place where the PC hardware reads instructions to boot up an operating system or program. Windows installs those instructions in the bootloader, just as another operating system like Linux. By making the process proprietary without full documentation, competitors are at a huge disadvantage.

Microsoft has basically inserted themselves as the UEFI gatekeeper for installing not just their software, but any software that modifies the bootloader on a potentially huge number of devices globally around the world.

The main issue with the UEFI secure protocol is that it excludes out ALL other operating systems, for the right of sharing (educational), giving (philanthropy), renting, loaning, and borrowing on other W8 PC system/s hardware to run boxed copies of Windows or Linux on Windows logo hardware, and also impossible to install new versions of Windows or Linux unless your OEM provided a new UEFI digitally signed key. A system that ships with only OEM and Microsoft keys will not boot a generic copy of Linux.

Not to mention, Windows 8 PC owners won’t be able to replace their OS with another like Windows 7, unless they obtain a digitally signed Secure Boot version for their system.

One of the few shortcomings in the UEFI model (and it is a deliberate omission because of the complexity of running a certification system) is that there’s no designated root of trust in the current version 2.3.1. for a centralized vendor-neutral signing authority to provide UEFI keys.

The Windows 8 PC you buy in 2013 will be permanently locked into Windows 8 if Microsoft gets away with their plan. Windows 8 certification does not require that the user be able to disable UEFI secure boot, and hardware vendors have reported already that on some hardware will not have this option available.

Of course, Windows 8 certification does not require that the PC system come with any keys other than Microsoft’s. A system that ships with UEFI secure boot enabled and only includes Microsoft’s signing keys will only securely boot Microsoft operating systems.

Think how this gives great power to Microsoft, for every manufacturer that wants to sell hardware for the Windows 8 PC, needs a UEFI digital signed key, from Microsoft!

Disabling UEFI Secure Boot is NOT offered on ARM systems like Windows 8 RT (Tablets).

The PC user using x64 or x86 systems is not guaranteed the ability to install extra signing keys in order to securely boot the operating system of their choice. The PC user is not guaranteed that their system will include the signing keys that would be required for them to swap their graphics card from another vendor, or replace their network card and still be able to netboot, or install a newer SATA controller and have it recognize their hard drive in the firmware. Of course, UEFI doesn’t provide the means to generate your own UEFI keys either. Just where does that leave the PC user?

The truth is that UEFI using the Secure Boot Protocol v2.3.1 makes it more difficult to run anything other than Windows 8. UEFI secure boot is a valuable and worthwhile feature that Microsoft is misusing to gain tighter control over the market.

As it stands now Microsoft is saying OEMs don’t have to do it. They just have to do it if they want to sell PCs with Windows on them.

Links:

  • http://www.uefi.org/specs/download/UEFI_2_3_1_Errata_A.zip “UEFI Specification 2.3.1″ (2,139 pages)
  • http://download.microsoft.com/download/A/D/F/ADF5BEDE-C0FB-4CC0-A3E1-B38093F50BA1/windows8-hardware-cert-requirements-system.pdf (291 pages)

Note: you can obtain the source PDF as Microsoft PDF ebook “Windows 8 Inside Out by Tony Northrup (Nov 23, 2012)”

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012950441

ISBN: 978-0-7356-6381-7

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Inside-Out-Tony-Northrup/dp/0735663815/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354458846&sr=1-1&keywords=9780735663817

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

A Single Comment

  1. Tony Northrup said,

    December 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Gravatar

    Hi. I’m the author of Windows 8 Inside Out.

    Regarding the book, you’re right that the coverage of Secure Boot is brief, and perhaps too brief. However, since the book is about Windows 8 and Windows 8 users shouldn’t ever need to configure Secure Boot, it seemed sufficient for my audience.

    Also note that there’s no single process for turning off Secure Boot, because it must be done within the UEFI firmware, and that can be different for every PC (or at least, every UEFI implementation). So, providing step-by-step instructions for that would have been impossible. The lack of a consistent user interface is actually one of the biggest drawbacks to Secure Boot; if users want to turn it off, they need to read the manual, and you know how that goes…

    There’s plenty of information out there about how it works, and in fact I’m in the process of writing a much longer whitepaper for IT audiences.

    People are concerned about Secure Boot because all PCs that get the Windows 8 logo certification MUST support Secure Boot and have it turned on by default. However, that same certification process also requires PCs to:
    * Allow the user to add their own keys, so they can trust any bootloader/OS they want.
    * Completely disable Secure Boot, so the PC operates will load anything (including a bootkit).

    Just wanted to clarify that the concern isn’t, “Users can’t run Linux!” it’s, “Users have to follow potentially confusing steps to change their Secure Boot settings if their favorite Linux distro doesn’t have a certified boot loader.”

    There is a certified shim that Linux distros can use, though I know none of them are especially happy about having to get a cert from Microsoft: http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/20303.html

    My understanding is that these statements are now incorrect:

    “Windows 8 certification does not require that the user be able to disable UEFI secure boot” and “The PC user using x64 or x86 systems is not guaranteed the ability to install extra signing keys in order to securely boot the operating system of their choice.” The certification does require users to be able to disable Secure Boot, as well as trusting any bootloader they choose.

    However, this statement is true:

    “Disabling UEFI Secure Boot is NOT offered on ARM systems like Windows 8 RT (Tablets).”

    Of course, it’s also true of just about every mobile device (iPhones, iPads, Kindle Fires, most Android devices, etc). Personally, I wish they would just let people load their own software, but the security guy in me understands the risks and the support guy in me knows the headaches.

What Else is New


  1. Links 4/5/2015: Many New Releases, Ubuntu Drone

    Links for the day



  2. Misplaced Focus on Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers' Defence of Trolls

    Observations about media coverage and reactions to the focus on patent trolls, which distracts from desperately-needed reform around patent scope



  3. PATENT Act a 'Reform' for Big Corporations, Hence Does Not Address the Core Issues, Including Patent Scope and Massive Patent Aggressors

    Big corporations, including some of the biggest patent aggressors out there, successfully lobbied for what has essentially become a bipartisan bill to eliminate the thorn in their side



  4. Openwashing of Binary Blobs That Microsoft Uses to Attack Free Software and GNU/Linux From the Inside

    Media which is either willfully ignorant or complicit has successfully, based on volume of coverage, framed Microsoft's proprietary software as openness and nicety



  5. Microsoft Kills Netscape Again, This Time Removing It From the History Books

    Microsoft's embarrassing crimes against Netscape -- the ones that put Bill Gates on trial and nearly split Microsoft -- virtually forgotten as Netscape itself is made to 'disappear'



  6. Microsoft India's Unofficial 'Branch' Infosys is Torturing the Meaning of Open Source Software

    Infosys, which is best known for its promotion of Microsoft in India, is distorting the meaning of 'Open Source' and joins a non-profit that is supposed to promote programming, not binary blobs



  7. Microsoft Windows is Dying, British Government Should Spend No More Money on It

    Time for the Establishment in the UK to abandon the out-of-support Windows XP (from 2001) and join the next generation of computing, which increasingly revolves around GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, supported by truly British companies



  8. IRC Proceedings: April 5th - May 2nd, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  9. Links 3/5/2015: Black Lab 6.5 RC2

    Links for the day



  10. Links 2/5/2015: Robolinux 7.9.1, LibreOffice Numbering

    Links for the day



  11. Links 1/5/2015: HP Ubuntu Laptops, Arch Linux 2015.05.01

    Links for the day



  12. Links 30/4/2015: Plasma 4.4 in the Making

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing the Linux-centric Arduino and Raspberry Pi, Making Them Windows Devices

    Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is "marketing"



  14. Microsoft Uses Ubuntu to Demonstrate and Promote Microsoft Lock-in

    Canonical's Ubuntu is now used as the bait by which to seduce developers in the GNU/Linux world into Microsoft dependencies, surveillance, and software patents



  15. The EPO's Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, is Probably on His Way Out, Threatens to Resign

    The Napoleonic self-acclaimed 'president' of the EPO, who surrounded himself with loyal thugs and crushed all opposition to him (assuring reign by fear), reportedly threatens to fall on his sword if an independent mediator gets appointed



  16. Links 30/4/2015: Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Microsoft Copies Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  17. Windows Recipes for Disaster (Met Police and Fukushima)

    Microsoft Windows mentality and strong dependencies continue to cause immeasurable damage that costs people a lot in terms money and in terms of health



  18. ‘Visual Studio Code’: Not News, Not Free, Not Open Source

    Another publicity stunt from Microsoft, this time going under the name ‘Visual Studio Code’, which is basically proprietary lock-in



  19. Microsoft's Patent Attacks on Android Not Covered in the Corporate Media, Only Microsoft as the 'Victim'

    Omission of important developments around Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late



  20. As Core Issues Still Not Addressed, Another Protest Against EPO Management Scheduled for Tomorrow in Munich, Germany

    On Thursday (tomorrow) yet another demonstration is organised in Munich, less than a week ahead of the UPC decision (May 5th)



  21. Pharmaceutical Patents and Hedge Funds: Evil Fighting Evil

    Revisiting the subject of patents on life or life-saving processes, plus a hedge fund's extortion-type attack on such patents (for quick profit)



  22. UCLA Foolishly Grooms Microsoft's Patent Troll Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures), Who is Busy Attacking Android and Linux These Days

    More news about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' anti-Linux tool, who lost a battle because of last year's SCOTUS ruling and is now groomed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)



  23. Links 28/4/2015: Plasma 5.3, Cutelyst 0.8.0

    Links for the day



  24. Links 28/4/2015: More on Debian 8 “Jessie”, Fedora 22 Beta Walkthrough

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft is Attacking Android Like Never Before, Qisda the Latest to Sign Patent Extortion Deal

    More blackmail and propaganda against Android, courtesy of the gentler, kinder, 'new' Microsoft



  26. Caution Needed When Microsoft Copywriters Flood the Media With Microsoft Propaganda

    Media actively subverted by Microsoft-sponsored agents of deception, whose goal is to change what people think of Microsoft and its software, even if by lying (they call it 'marketing')



  27. Gartner Staff That Worked for Microsoft and the Latest Nonsense from Gartner or 'Former' Staff

    Gartner waited until 2015 to declare FOSS fit for databases; another example spotted where Gartner staff comes from Microsoft or vice versa



  28. Links 27/4/2015: Debian 9 Named, Linux 4.1 Reaches RC

    Links for the day



  29. Microsoft is Interjecting Itself Into GNU/Linux and Free Software News, Even Events and Foundations

    Microsoft's entryism strategy is proving effective as Microsoft successfully embeds itself inside the idealogical competition, subverting the competition's overall message and diluting the competition's focus on Free software



  30. The Unethical Business of Selling Fear of Free/Libre Software Bugs (Black Duck, Sonatype, and Symantec)

    The spreading of fear of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is now a growth industry, so proprietary opportunists are eager to capitalise on it, even if by distorting the truth


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts