Microsoft Screws Non-Windows Users with Windows 8 and Secure Boot

Little known fact to non-geeks out there. Microsoft, as part of their cor­por­ate plan (pre­sum­ably writ­ten some­where dark and dank, like an office cubicle) to main­tain hege­mony over the com­put­ing world, have “encour­aged” the imple­ment­a­tion of Secure Boot which pre­vents the load­ing of any other oper­at­ing sys­tem other than Win­dows 8 on devices cer­ti­fied to run Win­dows 8.

Microsoft has announced that if com­puter makers wish to dis­trib­ute machines with the Win­dows 8 com­pat­ib­il­ity logo, they will have to imple­ment a meas­ure called “Secure Boot.” How­ever, it is cur­rently up for grabs whether this tech­no­logy will live up to its name, or will instead earn the name Restric­ted Boot.

When done cor­rectly, “Secure Boot” is designed to pro­tect against mal­ware by pre­vent­ing com­puters from load­ing unau­thor­ized bin­ary pro­grams when boot­ing. In prac­tice, this means that com­puters imple­ment­ing it won’t boot unau­thor­ized oper­at­ing sys­tems — includ­ing ini­tially author­ized sys­tems that have been mod­i­fied without being re-approved.

This could be a fea­ture deserving of the name, as long as the user is able to author­ize the pro­grams she wants to use, so she can run free soft­ware writ­ten and mod­i­fied by her­self or people she trusts. How­ever, we are con­cerned that Microsoft and hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers will imple­ment these boot restric­tions in a way that will pre­vent users from boot­ing any­thing other than Win­dows. In this case, we are bet­ter off call­ing the tech­no­logy Restric­ted Boot, since such a require­ment would be a dis­astrous restric­tion on com­puter users and not a secur­ity fea­ture at all.

Gran­ted. You prob­ably won’t feel the hurt from this meas­ure unless you are plan­ning on installing another OS on your machine, like Linux or Android (on a tab­let), but this meas­ure will be harm­ful over­all to those who do want or do need to install some other oper­at­ing sys­tem on their computers.

In this case I will pull the priv­ilege ham­mer and say this time the vic­tim will be me, and many oth­ers in the open source com­munity. We want the right to truly own and use the devices we have in our possession.

By being a Win­dows user, you have the priv­ilege of not giv­ing a shit about users of other oper­at­ing sys­tems because this is a prob­lem you will not feel.

I will give one other con­crete example of how Secure Boot will hurt soci­ety over­all — edu­ca­tion. Linux dis­tros like Edubuntu have been used to refur­bish old com­puters to be given to schools or under­priv­ileged chil­dren world­wide. What hope do they have in giv­ing new life to old devices should this com­pletely uneth­ical imple­ment­a­tion of a blatant cor­por­ate move to murder the com­pet­i­tion be allowed?

If you have been con­vinced by my jus­ti­fic­a­tions for why you should oppose Secure Boot, sign this peti­tion from the Free Soft­ware Foundation.