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. The EFF Back to Tackling Software Patents, Not Just Patent Trolls

    Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyers start targeting large companies that exploit patents for intimidation and extortion, not just patent trolling



  2. Microsoft Wants to Devour the Competition (Linux), Devour People's Data

    Refuting the "new Microsoft" propaganda and some ludicrous concept that Microsoft is now "playing nice"



  3. Benoît Battistelli Thinks 'President' is Above the Law, Decides to Ignore the Court's Ruling

    Staff of the EPO is given yet more reasons to protest tomorrow at the British Consulate, for the so-called 'President' of the EPO reminds everyone of the very raison d'être for the protest -- a vain disregard for the rule of law



  4. Links 24/2/2015: Xfce 4.12 a Week Away, GNOME 3.16 Previewed

    Links for the day



  5. Links 23/2/2015: Ubuntu Kylin 14.04.2 LTS, Cinnamon 2.6 Previews

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: February 8th - February 21st, 2015





  7. The EPO's Sham 'Internal Investigation' of EPO Vice-President Željko Topić's Affairs

    The EPO never investigated the Željko Topić affair, it only pretends to have investigated (one small aspect, i.e. cherry-picking) using a Benoît Battistelli-controlled group



  8. Links 21/2/2015: GNOME 3.15.90, Google Wins Android Lawsuit

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft AstroTurfing War on GNU/Linux is Still Going On, But Hidden Better, Uses API as Instrument of Lock-in

    The corruptible press continues to describe blatant attacks (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish) against GNU/Linux and Free software as Microsoft 'embracing' Open Source



  10. Lenovo's Superfish Scandal is Spyware on Top of Spyware (Microsoft Windows), the Problem is Inherently Proprietary Software

    Shifting focus to the root problem, which is neither Lenovo nor its laptops but the non-free programs installed on hardware



  11. Benoît Battistelli Once Again Threatens EPO Staff That 'Dares' to Protest, Battistelli Exploits Terror Attacks to Pretend to Respect Free Speech

    The European Patent Office (EPO) President, Benoît Battistelli, reportedly started threatening -- as before -- staff that decides to exercise the right to assemble and protest against abuses, including the abuses of President Battistelli himself



  12. Links 20/2/2015: Android Studio v1.1, GDB 7.9

    Links for the day



  13. Links 20/2/2015: Bloomberg Joins Linux Foundation, ClearOS Community 6.6.0

    Links for the day



  14. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys Slams the European Patent Office for Structural Failings

    An important letter which we overlooked while writing yesterday's 4 articles about the European Patent Office (EPO); yet another key stakeholder complains



  15. Links 19/2/2015: Hewlett-Packard on Cumulus Linux, Previews of GNOME 3.16 Beta

    Links for the day



  16. Techrights Under Attack Again, Shortly After Important EPO Articles

    Techrights highlights a pattern that is months old; Site faces availability issues shortly after reports about the European Patent Office and its abuses



  17. EPO Staff Protests Against Benoît Battistelli’s Lowering of Patents Quality (Scope Expansion and Software Patents for Profit)

    A protest in Munich in less than 6 days will target Mr. Sean Dennehey, who has helped Battistelli cover up his abuses and crush legitimate critics, whom he deemed illegal opposition as if the EPO is an authoritarian regime as opposed to a public service which taxpayers are reluctantly (but forcibly) funding



  18. Breaking: European Patent Office Sued by Its Own Staff in The Hague, Must Unblock Staff's Voices

    The crooked management of the European Patent Office (EPO) gets in legal trouble after repeated attempts to cover up abuses and suppress criticism



  19. Željko Topić's History in SIPO Leaves a Legacy of Alleged DZIV Vehicles (Bribes), Authorship Abuses, and Intimidation Against Reporters

    Another deep look at Željko Topić's background in Croatia, preceding his very notorious appointment to the EPO where he now serves as Benoît Battistelli's most controversial attack dog



  20. The Old Obsession With Patent Trolls Continues to Distract From Debate About Software Patenting

    A roundup of recent coverage about monopolies on algorithms in the United States



  21. Links 19/2/2015: 64-bit ARM Linux, Chinese New Year

    Links for the day



  22. Links 18/2/2015: Linux Report, FlightGear 3.4

    Links for the day



  23. EPO Scandals: The Story So Far

    An overview of articles about mischief, misconduct and breach of laws at the EPO



  24. Links 17/2/2015: TripleO, Pivotal

    Links for the day



  25. Links 17/2/2015: SystemD 219, Frugalware 2.0 (Rigel) Released

    Links for the day



  26. Željko Peratović Slammed for Whitewashing Željko Topić After Publishing Important Piece on Behalf of Key Sources

    Response from Ivan Kabalin to Zeljko Peratovic's so-called "apology" which is both mysterious and seemingly inadequate as it does nothing to actually explain what was wrong (if anything)



  27. Benoît Battistelli Has Made Oversight of European Patent Office Absolutely Impossible





  28. Microsoft Already Killed Nokia, Don't Let It Kill Android Players Too

    Microsoft's strategy against Android mirrors the company's evil strategy that derailed MeeGo and Nokia



  29. Intel Continues to Attack Software Freedom Through UEFI

    The Trojan horse that Microsoft uses to cement its monopoly on desktops and laptops (making it hard or impossible to install and run GNU/Linux) is also being misused to block Coreboot



  30. Links 16/2/2015: Netrunner 15, Bridge Linux

    Links for the day


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