Will Windows 8 PCs Lock Out Linux?

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There is a current Windows 8 story that is making its way around the web (ZDNet, TechPowerUp, and Extremetech), that claims that new Windows 8 PCs will be able to “lock out” any other OS, such as Linux. Obviously, this has many people up in arms about Microsoft’s new and upcoming OS, but is this information accurate?

Windows 8, from what we know so far, requires UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) on ARM processors and supports UEFI on x86 (either 32-bit or 64-bit) hardware. Part of the latest UEFI specification allows for something called ‘Secure Boot’, in which the firmware restricts drivers and executables from loading unless they are signed by one of the keys pre-installed in the firmware (source). The issue centers around OEM’s and their relationship with Microsoft; for a new pre-built Windows 8 PC to sport the “Designed for Windows 8” logo, it must have UEFI enabled with ‘Secure Boot’ and have Microsoft’s signed keys pre-loaded into the PC’s firmware.

So, why is this a problem? Well, an OEM computer with this configuration disallows any other OS from being loaded or booted, such as Linux. System builders and DIY folks need not worry, as this only pertains to the OEM machines. Even then, you may be able to call their tech support and obtain a work around, but we won’t know until the Windows 8 OEM PCs start shipping.

Let’s hear it! Post your feedback in the comments.
-John Tyra (Jmtyra)

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Discussion
  1. I see them being able to prevent Linux from being installed on the same drive as something that could certainly happen. However that will not be possible in my opinion with separate drives.
    I think having the product key in firmware is going to make them less money... Now nobody will accidentally buy another copy of windows to clean up their machine when they lose / don't receive a recovery CD. Although... I admit to often using old XP COAs on new machines :D
    i do not see how its possible to prevent another OS being installed, if its on the HDD we already have tools to kill that. not to mention we can easily go to newegg and get a HDD that was never touched by windows. and good luck getting MOBO manufacturers to play this game.
    Why would mobo mfg care considering it has nothing to do with them?
    EDIT: Forget it, because its loaded into the UEFI...:p
    Still, they hardly have a choice to boycott the most widely used OS in the word on their boards.
    Me either considering the boot selection screen (which OS0 is not taken from the bios but created on a hard drive...unless that is where the bios looks? if thats true, would a rename help? I have no experience whatsoever with linux outside of some boot/utility disks if you dual boot linux and windows can it even show up on that screen?
    you do mean you need ms signed keys in the mobo bios for it to work.like how graphics cards need signed keys from ati to work on catalyst.so then the bios will not detect/boot from linux\os that has no ms keys.finally oh yeah
    I know, right! Gosh, thankfully we'll be able to do away with all competition in the operating system market and get rid of that pesky personal choice crap that makes my life *hell*.
    WARNING: Above message may contain sarcasm.
    David
    I know, right! Gosh, thankfully we'll be able to do away with all competition in the operating system market and get rid of that pesky personal choice crap that makes my life *hell*.
    WARNING: Above message may contain sarcasm.

    Hate to be the pessimist but the general public makes all of are decisions now,based on market trends.
    n September, ahead of Windows 7's release, Windows had 92.77 percent of the market, compared to 5.12 percent for the Mac.

    We can fool ourselfs into thinking we have choices but they are few and far between.
    This sounds more like something Apple would love to do if it could. In general, I think it would hurt Microsoft to add this 'feature' more than it would help them. And if it's up to the OEM, I doubt very few would choose to do it unless they have some strong incentive. It's business - alienating 1% of your user base is worse than alienating 0% - and the extra hassle of supporting an additional feature is costly.
    It sounds exactly like what Apple does on their computers. Even if this "lock out" does come to fruition, there's nothing stopping people from running Linux or OSX on a VM from within Windows 8.
    SMOKEU
    there's nothing stopping people from running Linux or OSX on a VM from within Windows 8.
    Except there are a few of us that wouldn't run Windows at all and this solution becomes a non-solution.
    Ben333
    I think this will ONLY make it harder to pirate windows. Installing linux and OS X should still be possible.
    OK Ill bite... why do you feel this way?