Linux group files complaint against Windows 8

Windows 8’s Secure Boot feature blocks users from installing other operating systems on their new PC, according to a Linux users’ association based in Spain.

Hispalinux, which represents some 8,000 open-source users and developers, today filed a formal complaint with the European Commission accusing Microsoft of “unfair competition” and causing irreparable damage to the European software industry” by limiting new PCs to Windows 8 with the use of the OS’s Secure Boot feature.

Secure Boot is Microsoft’s label for unified extensible firmware interface (UEFI).

UEFI replaced the older BIOS boot technology built into PCs. The UEFI is designed to protect PC against rootkits by requiring a trusted key before booting the operating system. Microsoft requires new firmware to run the Windows 8 and provides the needed key to computer manufacturers.


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By this arrangement, non-Microsoft OS’s such as Linux are prevented from running on new Windows 8 computers without keys of their own of some software alteration.

Large Linux distributors such as Canonical Fedora and SUSE have devised workarounds to the UEFI. Smaller Linux distributors, however, have been mostly locked out and have to pay a $50 one-time fee to Microsoft for the key.

“The requirement of a digital signature to access the computer’s startup systems is a technical barrier, which would benefit (only) the vulnerable Windows and its ecosystem (which is) plagued by malware,” according to a blog posted by association today.

Microsoft, however countered that UEFI is an industry standard developed for improving computer security and has been an approached available to the public for some time now.

Rubin Koch, a Microsoft spokesman based in Brussels, said the company is confident that Secure Boot is compliant with existing laws and helps users secure their machines.

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