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Microsoft Taking Aggressive Steps Against Linux On ARM 675

New submitter Microlith writes "Microsoft has updated their WHQL certification requirements for Windows 8, and placed specific restrictions on ARM platforms that will make it impossible to install non-Microsoft operating systems on ARM devices, and make it impossible to turn off or customize such security. Choice quotes from the certification include from page 116, section 20: 'On an ARM system, it is forbidden to enable Custom Mode. Only Standard Mode may be enabled' — which prevents users from customizing their security, and in section 21: 'Disabling Secure MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems' to prevent you from booting any other OSes."
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Microsoft Taking Aggressive Steps Against Linux On ARM

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  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:11AM (#38696698) Homepage

    MS is fine with all those junk-grade tablets, just that they don't want something like the N900 to pop up. They were able to kill that by all-but acquiring Nokia and making sure Elop would kill the N9.

    So take your "not target market" or "find a device that suits you" complaints and stuff them, tyvm.

  • by Windwraith ( 932426 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:27AM (#38696802)

    News about Microsoft can get conflicting, on one day you get a massive push for right stuff like open source and other good practices, and then you get stuff like this that sounds like the Microsoft of old.

    I am wondering, how many divisions exist within Microsoft? I mean divisions capable of giving such conflictive news. I can't help but feel a part (probably formed of younger staff or management) is trying to do the right thing while other part (probably formed of old-school people from the times of anti-trust) is adhering to their old self. If this were to be the case, I hope the former ends up having more control of the company, really. I kinda hate to have to hate Microsoft at this point.

  • by khipu ( 2511498 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:27AM (#38696804)

    There, fixed the title for you. This is a security feature.

    The fact that you think that disabling "custom boot" on ARM makes Windows more secure is yet another indication that there is really no understanding of security in the Windows world. And Linux users haven't been "asking for" Microsoft to do anything; we don't really care. We just keep pointing out that Microsoft doesn't seem to understand security.

    Microsoft's OS's have minimal market share on ARM-based device

    Yes, the fact that Microsoft's operating systems are such a failure on ARM: Microsoft is in effect subsidizing hardware in order to give their operating system a chance in the market on ARM; without such subsidies, they wouldn't have a chance. But it is just those subsidies that make the hardware attractive for Linux. In contrast, iPhone and iPod are unattractive targets for alternative operating systems because iOS is successful and Apple charges a premium for their devices.

    Locking down the boot loader in that way doesn't improve security and only has one conceivable purpose: to keep out other operating systems, and it is a necesssary part of an attempt by Microsoft to gain market share for their otherwise unattractive operating systems by subsidizing the hardware.

  • grrrr (Score:1, Interesting)

    by topgun966 ( 1377185 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:30AM (#38696824)
    On the surface, yes this is MSFT being douches. But they do have sound reasoning if you hear it out. MSFT is sick and tired of being thought of a virus/malware ridding os. They are being aggressive. By locking down the EFI (new bios) that will prevent boot sector viruses. This is going to be the same for x86. There is a easy work around. DONT BUY A PRE-BUILT COMPUTER. I am avid Linux and Windows user. Try looking at it from their perspective and be a little more objective.
  • by unapersson ( 38207 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:31AM (#38696832) Homepage

    That worked for them with netbooks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:49AM (#38696956)

    No antivirus can do anything about it, and even if you re-install your OS, the malware gets re-installed too!

    Last I used an MS-OS (DOS) bootsectorvirus was common, and so was antivirus that could handle that. What have happende? Have MS locked down the bootsector so only viruses can modify it and not the anti-virus or the OS? In that case this is an exelent example why this will NOT work....

  • by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:51AM (#38696970) Homepage
    I've been using Windows for a long time. I do not like Windows. Other's agree with me, people who use Windows do not like Windows. People who use Windows like the software they run on Windows.

    Microsoft thinks that people LOVE Windows. That's why they created Windows CE, and that was a massive failure. People want to run their x86 software on the computer, and last time I checked Windows 8 ARM can not run x86 software, so your software collection is junk all of a sudden.

    If you give most people a choice between Linux vs Windows, they will choose Windows. If you give them a choice between Windows that wont run their apps, and Linux that wont run their apps but at least already has a large library of software, then they will Choose Linux.
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:54AM (#38696988)

    Microsoft will get dragged through the courts for anti-competitive behaviour once again. You'd think they'd have learnt their lesson from the whole IE bundling thing that cost them very serious money.

    Even if the US gov is corrupt enough to let this slide, there's no way Microsoft will get away with this in the EU or anywhere else.

  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:56AM (#38697016)

    There are plenty of phone/tablet devices with measures to explicitly prevent other OSes from being put in place. Telling is that the 'OS' in PC world is considered software and in the phone/tablet world they have sucessfully got people calling it 'firmware'. This market is trying to blur the division between the platform and the OS to significant success. Every 'OS' vendor is expected to compete by getting a partner to release hardware around the OS. That means less room for startups or grass-roots OS creation, only certain Android hardware devices are a viable target.

    That market is a plethora of monolithic devices with no configurability in hardware or software. This is a huge step back from the state of x86 systems where so much is socketed and mixing and matching is possible by the consumer thanks to rigorous standards in place to make it all possible. The 'primary' targeted OS runs as well as the primary OS on any of these devices, and while an alternative OS may fail to integrate properly with the device (Linux-Vendor ACPI was a sore spot for eternity, better now), the user can make the tradeoffs if they choose.

  • by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:18AM (#38697188) Homepage

    I too am struck by the timing of the initial post, and the similarity of your id to that party's id... it does indeed suggest you're engaged in paid astroturfing for Microsoft.

    The response to your 'question': Google doesn't lock down their devices; they leave that choice entirely to the manufacturers, some of whom choose to lock down, others who choose not to (e.g. Samsung, and Google itself).

    If Google had as long and detailed a history of being as anti-competetive as Microsoft, they'd garner just as much hate as Microsoft. But Google is much better than Microsoft, both in this case and in longterm overall behavior.

    Slashdot, can we have a system where people can be tagged as shills, not just per-comment but as a lingering account attribute?

  • Who cares (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreyGroom ( 1766742 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:28AM (#38697286)
    If MS wants to have built giant cell phones with really happy software locked onto it let them. It will be jailbroken in fractions of a second. Or I can strip it down and run a virtual machine. MS cannot lock the machine down enough to prevent it. They are not that good.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:29AM (#38697298)

    Microsoft may have screwed the pouch here. Every time I get a horribly fucked up windows box to fix the procedure is quite simple. Puppy Linux grab all the important files and run an anti-virus scan on those files then re-install the OS and what ever programs they need. How would I do this to an arm based windows machine?

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:54AM (#38697444)

    which I think should only ever be done in the case of monopolies, which doesn't really apply to Microsoft in the mobile marketspace

    The monopoly that makes Microsoft dangerous is not hardware-related, not even Windows-related - it is MS Office and Exchange/Outlook. Even many OS X users are dependent on these and its one of the biggest practical obstacles to "Linux on the desktop". Anybody using mobile technology in an office environment is likely to be dependent on their ability to reliably create and open Office documents with full fidelity.

    There seems to be fairly healthy competition (mutual assured patent destruction permitting) in the consumer tablet/smartphone market - but the corporate side of this business is only just getting started (with demand driven by consumer products) and if MS could offer "real" Office/Outlook on a half-credible mobile platform that would be seen by many corporates as an end-of-argument advantage.

    What should have happened in previous anti-monopoly actions was the separation of MS's operating system and applications businesses. Anything else (fines, browser ballots, arguments over bundling) is pointless.

    If Apple ever get to a monopoly position then maybe they'll need similar attention (e.g. hiving off iTunes.App Store from Apple) but at the moment they're driving innovation (NB: "innovation" includes getting other people's ideas to market).

  • by Dr Max ( 1696200 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @11:21AM (#38697602)

    MS knows that once linux really starts to take hold anywhere at all they are in danger everywhere.

    I'm not so sure, the majority of Linux geeks have windows installed aswell. I reckon the real way to success would be to embrace linux, hell they should provide there own version and make dual booting easy. Then majority of people will use windows most of the time, but the semi geeks won't feel too trapped and the hardcores still get exposer. If MS wants market share silly lock downs won't get them there, making a compelling new device with the great functions and features will; something like installing the kinect inside a phone maybe.

  • Micorosft is finaly realising their dream of creating a TCPA compilant plataform, iOS and Android aren't getting any more open and the smartphone market is finaly big. Everything is good now for somebody to pull a "PC" on phones.

    Create an extensible standard for ARM (we are near there already), sell a basic machine folowing that standard, then, sell extended versions. Make sure to publish the drivers with your Linux kernel (get them in the main tree if possible), and laugh while developers adopt your architecture.

    Once you have the developers, getting users is just a matter of time. Be sure to use your first mover advantage wisely, and sell the company before the market get completely comodityzed.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @12:04PM (#38697890)

    I don't think they fear Linux geeks. I think they are terminally afraid average people could realize how bad and how far behind Windows actually is in comparison to the alternatives.

  • But if someone says 12 is 6 of one and a half a dozen of the other does it make it wrong if you don't like the company?

    Lets be honest and cut the bullshit folks, we're all geeks and adults, yes? There are TWO VERY LEGITIMATE REASONS for doing this that even the blind would be able to see. 1.- After seeing how badly Google has been getting pwned with Android malware the LAST thing MSFT wants is to be the easily pwned OS in this new market, and 2.- the REAL reason I'm willing to bet my last buck they are doing this....ready? PIRACY. Not only is MSFT Windows most likely the most highly pirated software on the entire planet but we've already seen pirated phone apps all over the web. by locking down their OS and hardware this gives them a better platform for those that want to sell phone apps, think X360. yes we all know there are pirate X360s out there but it means you have to have two systems, the cracked and the legit and most folks simply aren't gonna go through that much bullshit. I'm sure MSFT will have special keys which will be tied to the OS and hardware so that those selling apps on windows market know they aren't gonna get pirated without them doing some serious hardware hacking which the vast majority won't do for fear of bricking.

    Finally the most important thing which will probably piss off the fanbois but seriously, who gives a flying fuck? Its not like MSFT is gonna sell jack shit when it comes to Windows 8 on ARM anyway because the whole damned selling point of Windows is WINDOWS PROGRAMS which are all x86. Has everyone forgotten WinNT on Alpha and MIPS? Remember how quick and how hard that shit bombed? Why would you want Windows if you can't run Windows programs? Its not like you can just recompile those 300,000+ programs for Windows to run on ARM now can you? Apple can change arches because the programs people buy Apple devices for, your iMovie and iDVD and Garageband and iTunes are all written by guess who? The ONLY thing MSFT has besides the OS is Office, big whoop. Everything else is by some third party and most won't bother because there are literally a billion Windows boxes they can sell for that run x86 and they don't have to change a line of code, so why waste the money on a niche platform MSFT has already struck out on not once, not twice, but THREE times now, first WinMo then Kin followed by WinPhone...see a pattern?

    Personally they can have it written that you can't use Win 8 for ARM unless you watch Ballmer do his monkey dance for all that its gonna matter, its gonna bomb, YOU know it, I know it, hell everybody knows it! Everyone will stick with iShiny and those cute little dancing droids. There is ONE nice thing though, after this shit bombs we'll be getting Win 8 pads at Touchpad prices and if you end up with a $500 winPad for the firesale prices the touchpad went for are you REALLY gonna give a shit what it runs?

  • by deathguppie ( 768263 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @02:27PM (#38699144)

    I am one of those dual booting geeks that you speak of. I can tell you that I spend a very, very limited amount of time on windows. Usually to play a game or to set up some device with windows only device setup. The reality is that for me, and a lot of people (not everyone) windows is an environment that forces it's users to follow a paradigm that may or may not fit anyone's personal needs. My wife is still not sure about moving to windows 7 because the library file system thing is confusing to her, and she doesn't want to deal with it. Our home server and home security, media centre and desktop systems are all Linux. She uses all of them and has no problem understanding how they work. She has remote access to all that from her laptop or her cell phone. If something doesn't make sense to her, I change it until she likes it. That's Linux.

    Now after having said all of that, I want to say. I don't work in software, or IT. I can code in bash, python, javascript, (html, css.. is that really coding?). I have met quite a few teenage kids that can do much of that. People like me are not really that much of an exception any more. People who can install and customise Linux, whether it be Ubuntu or Android are even less of an exception. Apple and MS pander to people who don't want to, or cannot understand the system they use beyond the interface. Those people are getting fewer and fewer.

    MS has a reason be afraid. Android is creating a whole new segment of super users, that (even if they don't know it) are learning Linux.

  • by BlueCoder ( 223005 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @03:05PM (#38699474)

    Everything is hackable. Hardware is the new frontier.

    There will be so much interest in Microsoft's private keys that they will be the prime target. They will need to have different keys for all devices just to maintain moderate security and that won't stop hardware hacking.

    Let me repeat, the only way to defeat crackers is monetize the industry and give them a big cut of the action. Crackers against crackers. They design the system and if it's cracked their percentage goes to paying off the cracker. You end up with DRM companies trying to crack each others systems.

Forty two.