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Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft Taking Over the BIOS 989

Posted by michael
from the bios-ain't-done-till-linux-won't-run dept.
dtjohnson writes "According to this story, Microsoft has entered into an agreement with BIOS maker Phoenix Technologies to integrate the BIOS with Windows. This has the potential to turn PCs into Windows-only machines and also could result in widespread incorporation of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology into new PCs. It looks like Microsoft is beginning to flex their marketplace monopoly muscles again, after taking a couple of years off."
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Microsoft Taking Over the BIOS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:39PM (#7128648)
    This is no different of what Apple is doing for years with the Macs: MacOS/X requires Apple's special BIOS to boot and work with.
  • Alternative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shawkin (165588) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:44PM (#7128701)
    Say hello to Linux on PPC. Or, for that matter, some BSD flavor on PPC. Speaking of BSD, there's always the Mac OSX option.
  • Honestly... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by silversurf (34707) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:44PM (#7128702)
    First, this is different from Apple?

    Second, it will take less than a week for someone to figure out how to access the new BIOS and make linux bootable

    Third, there will be plenty of chipset/mb makers who won't do it and you will see "linux" bioses or switchable bios chipsets depending on what the user wants. Linux has enough of a movement that chipmakers and bios makers probably won't ignore them.
  • by Heraklit (29346) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:45PM (#7128717) Homepage Journal
    Since most modern operating systems (i.e. also Linux) use the BIOS nearly exclusively during bootup, I'm not so sure if this has much impact... you will have to be able to boot an OS anyway...

    Also, Phoenix is only trying to do in the mainstream what has already been introduced for servers, namely better system diagnostics independent of the sanity state of the OS running.
  • by dbright (612573) * <dbright@nOsPam.carolina.rr.com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:45PM (#7128722)
    What's to keep the LinuxBIOS project (or something similar) from doing the same thing?

    While we may not like it, it's just the logical progression.

    Besides, if the BIOS "API's" are available to Windows, how long do you REALLY think it will take for open-source developers to reverse engineer it?
  • Re:Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truenoir (604083) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:46PM (#7128731)
    Apple uses Open Firmware, the same as Sun, possibly IBM, and others. You can easily boot Linux on a Mac if you want.
  • Is this bad? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Steve Cowan (525271) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:46PM (#7128732) Journal
    Macs have had their BIOS integrated with the Mac OS since their inception. When Linux became available for Macs (i.e. LinuxPPC and mklinux), all we had to do was boot into Mac OS first then run the Linux Loader (forget what it was called though).

    The BIOS OS integration on the Mac has always been a thing of beauty, and it makes sense that M$ would (after 20 years) start to catch up by now.
  • by xoboots (683791) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:47PM (#7128739) Journal
    It is different. Apple sells the hardware, too. Microsoft is trying to shift the rest of the industry by locking up the current "open" hardware that is currently available.
  • by Penguinshit (591885) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:48PM (#7128752) Homepage Journal
    Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it...
  • Apple is Different (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Balthisar (649688) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:49PM (#7128765) Homepage
    Apple has no BIOS on a chip anyware. Yes, there's Open Firmware, which is an open standard -- you're NOT locked into any type of control by Apple. You can run Linux on them. You have full control. THAT'S how it's different than Apple.

    Oh, you mean the old "Apple ROMs"? That's been ancient history for at least four years, maybe more. There's no more Mac ToolBox on ROM -- it's all loaded into memory from the hard drive.

    I am very, very concerned about this move. I run Linux on my Intel box with the current motherboard. Anyone got a good supply of fast PPC motherboards? I could do Linux that way, I guess....
  • Could you explain? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FreeLinux (555387) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:50PM (#7128772)
    Could you explain to me exactly who the lot of companies are? It is my belief that corporations as a whole will either not care at all or will regard this as a very good and important feature that will allow their operating system of choice(Windows) to operate more reliably and securely thanks to DRM and Trusted Computing blah blah blah

    Most corporations will welcome this with open arms.
  • by jwhitener (198343) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:51PM (#7128778)
    "The BIOS would also allow better control of unauthorised devices connected to a system, Microsoft said. "

    So, what is MS going to define as unauthorized? I don't fear them making the machine MS only, as I doubt that would fly with their recent monopoly troubles in court, but I do fear the definition of "unauthorized devices".

    So, perhaps they mean, CD players that don't use DRM and can rip audio tracks to mp3? That would be a unauthorized device?

    If so, thats bad. If microsoft, in any way, starts preventing me, on a hardware level, from deciding what I want to do with my files, I'll give up MS at home and work.
  • by yanestra (526590) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:51PM (#7128783) Journal
    Besides, if the BIOS "API's" are available to Windows, how long do you REALLY think it will take for open-source developers to reverse engineer it?
    I beg your pardon, isn't it illegal to crack digitally protected media? -- And I'm sure, it will be digitally protected.

    Years of lobby work finally pay off - in the USA like in Europe.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:55PM (#7128830) Homepage Journal
    it would be nicer if it was standard(to not have 'ms bios')..

    as for mobo manufacturers, boy was i glad one day when i was setting up my friends new computer that the cd that came with the mobo was selfbootable with freedos, so that i could get the sata drivers out from it.. since i couldn't remember if there was some way to get(winxp) it to load drivers during the initial setup phase(so that i could install to the drive that was connected to the sata drive).)

    though i'm a bit surprised why on earth would phoenix do such business with ms, sure short term monetary gain is always nice but that's not enough to justify going the route ah so many companies have gone that have done similar pacts with ms..

    anyways, i'm pretty sure that there will be always pc parts manufacturers willing to cater for non ms crowd too, or provide some other platform boards, there's just so many players in the pc industry to everyone skip that market. diversity is a blessing in the pc field in this, if ms made a closed standard for their drm it wouldn't be pc in the same sense anymore and could be really shooting themselfs in the foot.
  • by MrCaseyB (200218) * <casey_slash.luxedit@com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:56PM (#7128838) Homepage Journal
    Is there a definitive point in time, a single event that started this all?

    DRM this, RIAA that, MPAA my freakin head is spinning. When did DRM become so damn vital to companies like these? Was it napster that freaked everyone?

    Because of all this crap, A friends ISP got shut down because someone complained to his upstream provider that one of his users was sharing software, no warning, no proof, no due process...crazy.

    I spend $6000 on an HDTV last year that is already obsolete because it doesnt have the flavor of the month DVI copyrite protection connector. Hey man, check out this bad ass new DVD player that upconverts to 1080i, oh what you dont have DVI with HDCP, oh im sorry youre fucked. We had the 15pin RGB connector, then component video, then firewire, then DVI, then DVI with HDCP, and now we have HDMI. make up your freakin minds.

    Or how about a cd I bought that would play in my high end REGA Jupiter cd player because it had copywrite protection.

    I upgraded my video card and had to reactivate Windows XP on my workstation at work. What a pain in the a$$ I paid for the windows license.

    This shit makes physically ill to the point where I want to start firebombing some of these companies.

    I obviously blame these corporations and industry groups, but what started it all? Why are they so convinced that anyone using a computer is out to ruin them.

    Why am I being affected by all this crap, I dont fileshare, I dont rip CDs for friend, I dont steal cable. Im a somewhat honest consumer, why am I getting nailed with all this crap that really isnt going to make ANY dent in actual piracy?

    Are you listening to me Microsoft, RIAA, MPAA, Sony, Adobe, Disney and all you other fuckers. You cant stop piracy, all youre doing is driving me freakin nutts, and Im your paying customer!!!

  • by TheRealStyro (233246) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:56PM (#7128843) Homepage
    For DRM to have any measure of success, both hardware and software must be closely joined. A software only DRM solution will fail due to the ability to take the storage media to another software (OS). A hardware DRM solution would work, but updating for new file formats would allow a back-door for hackers.

    Taking over the BIOS should be just one step toward implementing a total DRM solution. The next step is securing storage media - maybe a 'smart' drive that handles file interaction for the OS and whose internals are hidden (for example - OS/user doesn't need to know/control format on drive).
  • by Penguinshit (591885) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:56PM (#7128845) Homepage Journal
    Apple is a monopoly only to those who wish to purchase Apple products (which is a single-digit segment of the market). Microsoft, on the other hand, has been found in numerous courts to be a monopoly on the desktop system market and has been found to utilize illegal methods to enforce such a monopoly. A marriage of hardware to the OS should be illegal in such a circumstance (lack or perceived lack of choice for the consumers).

    In short, your comparison is one of "Apples and oranges" and is therefore invalid.
  • Re:Honestly... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lxs (131946) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:56PM (#7128846)
    Well... look at the precedents:

    Apple -> Open Firmware; boots alternate OSes flawlessly.

    Microsoft -> XBOX encrypted BIOS; needs a modchip to restore basic PC functionality.

    True, the XBOX is a console, but the whole Palladium thing should make you uneasy about this move.
  • Re:Maybe I'm lost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilroy (155262) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:00PM (#7128887) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:

    But the paranoia involving all motherboards in the future to require Windows is obsurd because that is the sort of thing the justice department would not allow Microsoft/Motherboard manufactorers to do.

    Of course. Because this Justice Department has shown itself to be the ever-vigilant foe of monopolies, Microsoft in particular. It only took a six-year, multimillion dollar lawsuit among a dozen states and the federal government to end up causing Microsoft to do exactly nothing...
    Don't look to the DoJ to fix these wrongs -- Microsoft has the $$.
  • by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick.The.Red@nospAM.gmail.com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:02PM (#7128905) Journal
    Oh, yeah, I'm sure Dell and HP and Gateway and all the rest are going to LOVE a requirement to pay a Phoenix tax as well as the Microsoft tax! Not to mention what AMI and Award will think of this.
  • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:03PM (#7128913) Homepage

    [...]
    have the option of allowing users to turn it off.

    Unless *large number* of users do this, it won't help. Because what will happen is that more and more you will find media that refuses to run unless you have it turned on, and so your choice will be to leave it turned on, or never display any media again. And no amount of explaining the situation to the public will ever work. You'll say, "This sucks because it means I have to run only approved Windows software and I don't even want to run Windows" - and people will hear "Hi, I'm into piracy." And in the battle of public opinion, you can't beat the 500 pound elephant willing to lie.
  • Re:Is this bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doorbot.com (184378) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:06PM (#7128928) Journal
    The BIOS OS integration on the Mac has always been a thing of beauty, and it makes sense that M$ would (after 20 years) start to catch up by now.

    Except Apple sells PCs and Microsoft doesn't. Apple also used a customized version of OpenFirmware (stripped down version of Sun's OF, IIRC), while Microsoft is making it's own BIOS. Microsoft isn't catching up, they're trying to drag the whole PC market into their realm of control.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:07PM (#7128943)
    Sure they do. Boot into OS9 lately?

    Arguably, they fuck fewer people when they do this stuff, but so far MS hasn't prevented dick and Apple not only prevents you from booting their OS on other machines, but they prevent you from booting older OSes on some of their newer machines. They dicked with BeOS until the bitter end.

    Of all the things to try and prop Apple up as better. MS hasn't even done anything, and they're already convicted of what Apple has done for years, while you zealots sing Apple's praises.
  • by archen (447353) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:08PM (#7128956)
    So when is China (being the modern purveyor and possibly last hope of open technology) comming out with their own bios?
  • by N7DR (536428) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:09PM (#7128963) Homepage
    Right at the end of the article you will notice that the users will have an option to turn off the DRM...

    const bool drm = (vendor_says_drm_on) || (user_says_drm_on);

    ...which isn't at all the same thing as "users will have an option..."

  • by Tauvix (97917) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:13PM (#7128991)
    Ah, I may have misread.

    However, I think we'd be at least 5-7 years, and more likely 10 years, from that happening. It certianly won't be part of the Longhorn release. Here's my reasoning:

    1) The Longhorn release is nearly to the Beta stage, and we are likely more then a year off from seeing the first motherboards with this particular type of BIOS.

    2) Even if they wanted to try and lock people down into "You can only use Windows if you use MS-BIOS," there's still going to be the problem of backwards compatibility. Historically, Microsoft has wanted to push out OS upgrades to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. This means that it needs to be able to run on hardware manufactured during the lifetime of the previous incarnation of windows, if not the last two incarnations. For example, you can run Windows XP on hardware that ran Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, and Windows 2000...You may not be terribly happy with it, but you can do it.

    Yeah, there are ways around both of those, and they aren't the only reasons why I don't think we'll see that tight of required integration anytime soon.

    However, I do think now is the time to start looking at alternitives. LinuxBIOS is an option, however, it has quite a bit of work to go, and it doesn't have the corporate backing to make it happen that Phoenix and Microsoft can lever behind this.

    Much like with DRM, I am interested to see where this will go, and am avidly watching for more news, but until there are some more definate answers, that's all I'm going to do. I'm a network engineer. I don't have the technical skills to design an alternate technology, nor am I in a position where I can affect things politically (other then writing to my representives). I will continue to watch, learn, and comment where appropriate. :)
  • by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick.The.Red@nospAM.gmail.com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:15PM (#7129007) Journal
    Do you think Phoenix will keep their prices the same for this new bios? I expect it to cost Dell, et al quite a bit more because Dell will have no choice -- without the Phoenix bios the latest Windows won't boot.

    Unless/until Microsoft pulls a Microsoft and switches vendors [slashdot.org].

  • by Cloud K (125581) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:16PM (#7129010)
    I sincerely hope you're correct...

    But haven't you seen the stories about XBOX modders getting sued via the DMCA for modchips that basically replace the BIOS?
  • by Junta (36770) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:21PM (#7129048)
    Maybe a few years ago, this would be frightening, but as it stands, it is far too late to fear the PC industry being locked into Windows. Even if you think the home user base is unimportant, IBM, Dell, HPaq, Sun, Racksaver, and others have a significant investment in Linux in particular, and even if MS managed to get all the current independent motherboard companies on board for this, most any of those players would easily overcome it to keep the Linux revenue stream going.

    You have Clustering, server farms, web hosting, and a not so insignificant workstation and desktop market that is heavily leaning in the direction of linux (dominating the first three, and making very serious inroads into workstations and power user desktops). That's a whole lot of revenue for the likes of the big companies to just shrug and give up at Microsoft's whim.
  • How long? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:29PM (#7129104) Homepage Journal
    One only has to wonder how long before TCPA chip will refuse to load Linux BIOS loading only "trusted" Windows BIOS which will of course never load "untrusted" GNU OS. Truely scary perspective especially considering the fact that back in 1997 we all thought The Right to Read [google.pl] was a huge overexeggaration. I think it is time to renew my EFF membership. I believe everyone should do that instead of just complaining on Slashdot.
  • by Masarand (598211) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:30PM (#7129113)
    I work for a Fortune 500 that wouldn't touch this. We run Linux, OpenBSD on 100's of machines. I don't suppose IBM, HP and many others would go for a Windows-only BIOS.

    This in turn means that Dell et al will either

    • Offer a choice of BIOS (Windows or open) with all the support issues that entails.
    • Only ship the new BIOS if it support Linux and friends
    • Lose a few major customers (yeah, right.)
  • Re:Is this bad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kfg (145172) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:41PM (#7129184)
    Indeed. And if MS emulated this all you would have to do to run Linux would be. . .

    Buy a Windows license, install it (making much HD space "worthless"), and boot it (making you need to comply with their EULA).

    Cool. Who woulda thunk that it would be Microsoft who discovered the way to make big bucks from Linux?

    Do you mind if I sit this one out?

    KFG
  • by Alan (347) <(gro.seifu) (ta) (xeretcra)> on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:41PM (#7129186) Homepage

    No because it's not relevant.

    1.) It's not a PC.


    It's close to a PC, using PC style hardware. It's more a PC whose only job is to play games.


    2.) It only plays games. No apps have been ported to it.


    See my point above. Making a Business XBox that did nothing but run office apps wouldn't be that hard.


    3.) Nothing different going on here that Sony or Nintendo has going in their camps.


    Nope, but we're talking about the desktop market, where MS has 90% of the software, not the console market where MS is the newbie.


    If you think the X-BOX is an attempt to secure MS's Windows monopoly, then you really need to get your head examined.


    I think that MS believes that it is... I don't see any reason why they aren't attacking this market like any other, and attempting to be the best (read: only) player in it.
  • IBM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:43PM (#7129207)
    Don't forget that IBM still uses their own BIOS.

    Of course, they were also the first on the block with a TCPA implmentation.

    (HPaq also has their own BIOS for server systems. And judging by the copyrights on a Dell, it looks like they are using a forked version of a very old Phoenix BIOS, not Phoenix's latest and greatest.)
  • by westlake (615356) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:51PM (#7129272)
    I very much doubt a company with Dell's market share will have any trouble negotiating an acceptable price from Phoenix.
  • For a while... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sleepingsquirrel (587025) * <Greg.Buchholz@GI ... rrel.org minus p> on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:51PM (#7129275) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, DRM will be optional for a while. But when 90% of users are switched over to Windows2007, then banks will start to require DRM enabled computers to do your financial transactions over the web (balance transfers, checking the mortage status, etc.). Then the Powers-That-Be(TM) will decide that in order to crack down on terrorists, all on-line banking transactions will have to use a computer with DRM (and it just so happens that all transactions will also be simulatneously logged on IRS computers). Then on-line retailers will get in the act. First the Amazon's and E-Bay's will start to require it to reduce fraud. Then the banks will stiff-arm *all* merchants to only allow credit card transactions from DRM enabled machines. Of course on-line bill paying will go the same way. And now since the majority of people have these computers, other web-site operators will start to think "What kind of 'hacker' is visiting my site without a properly 'secured' browser? And what kind of data mining can I do now that I have a guarenteed identity behind the computer that I can sell to someone else!" So as more companies start to jump on the bandwagon, Grandma complains, "Some ladies in my knitting circle can't see my blog!" So the blogging software companies have to also incorporate DRM. Finally, the only people left using non DRM computer will be linux enthusiasts and criminals/terrorists. And since these two groups are about equal in size it'll be about a 50% chance that any web-surfer using a non-DRM computer is a criminal. Finally, DRM will be mandated by law and all objectors will be (secretly) rounded up and quitely disposed of (via the Patriot VI Act). So I know that I sleep sound at night knowing that DRM is *optional*.
  • by FractusMan (711004) * on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:00PM (#7129349)
    There was no specific event, no. It has been happening ever since people found ways to pirate music/software. First software, I believe. It's been getting more and more important for companies to protect their products. First came CD keys for online play. People came up with CD key generators. Why? It's not to fight back against The Man, it's cause they want free software. Copyprotection right on the CD itself. Protection emulators (www.daemontools.org, I believe, is a good one, or any other disc image emulator). Again, it's not so you can emulate your favorite CD without having to switch CDs. The main purpose is so you can have a virtual CD of a game/program you may or may not own. It's an unspoken truth. The same with those game cracks you'll download. In the .nfo files, that little disclaimer that makes the software pirates seem like reasonable guys by saying "Buy the software! We did!" Yeah, and then you gave it away for free along with detailed instructions on how to make sure this illegal copy works. Great way to support the developers. More protections came up, more people helped crack them. I mean, there are good crackers and there are bad crackers. Good crackers are like Ritz and President's Choice. Bad crackers are those guys who make it harder for software creators of any sort to make money. So, it seems a pretty natural progression from my point of view. The "Man" is saying, "Okay, you want to play hardball, we'll play hardball." Bang, DRM comes into play. The same as always, it's the few ruining it for the many. Of course, it's not all one sided. Bad business practices, muscle flexing of niche markets, unneccesary distrust of the public... They're all factors too. But do NOT fool yourself into thinking DRM was purely some kind of evil scheme to Get Your Money.
  • by GutBomb (541585) on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:01PM (#7129358) Homepage
    they are replacing the bios with hacked, copyrighted microsoft code. that is why the DMCA gets involved
  • by TyrranzzX (617713) on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:02PM (#7129365) Journal
    I'm a PC maker, MS comes to me with deals.

    ***MS gives a discount if they only install Windows on all their machines and refuses to sell any without OS's on them** Ok, I can deal with that, there aren't any alternatives right now and if they come up in the future, we can always renegotiate.

    (Competition is completly decimated as all the large manufacturers do this)

    *Bigger discount if you don't include the CD or documentation.* Sounds good to me.

    (More money for redmond.)

    *We'll also give you a discount on microsoft brand keyboards and mice which you can rebrand and we'll sell them to you for cheaper than you normally make them. We'll also give you a great discount on office if you promise not to carry anything else* Sounds good.

    (Gets your company locked into microsoft products even more.)

    *All of your machines require this BIOS in order to run windows, we'll give you another discount if you install them.* Sure, I can go with that, more money for me, w00p. I can always pull out of the agreement later.

    (More lockin to windows products, now you've got to change your company somewhat in order to throw them in. At first it's inexpensive, they give a discount, and after a year or 3, they jack up the prices)

    *Windows now requires that you use these cheap, fritz chipped celeron processors.* Sure, I spose I can since all my stuff is based off of windows anyway and at this point changing my company will cost millions.

    (Microsoft now implements DRM on computers and a lot of bullshit like changing the hardware config requires a call-in to microsoft, opening your files from a different OS is more difficult, etc.)

    *Windows will only work with windows-based chipsets, which only we sell and lisence now, they're cheaper than other motherboards.* Er..ok...sure I guess. Makes sense, and the corperate people like it so ok.

    (At this point, microsoft will eliminate the motherboard market, giving them control over everything prettymuch. Processers can be dealt with, but motherboards can't. They at this point start eliminating manufacturers 1 by 1, accusing them of bogus bullshit and infringing on their patents on the motherboards now proprietary buses)

    *The motherboards can now only run microsoft parts in a microsoft case. You need to buy microsoft parts and microsoft cases, but unfortunatly, they'll cost you 5 times as much as it costs us.) Fsck...where's linux? Where's unlocked fritz'd processors? Motherboard manufacturers? Help meee...

    (Microsoft now has complete control over the PC market. And since they have so much more control, they become even more powerful and eventually take control over world goverments since windows is running on everything. They use blackops to take over the goverment using nazi-like tactics, accept they just assassinate anyone who they don't like and twist the media their own uses)

    Hackers, at this point, being driven far underground and forced to be a very militant breed (think gattica), exploit bugs in the now somewhat secure Microsoft windows systems which are a modified version of linux in order to eat and live and help their communities. The roaming poor people, unable to find food or shelter and thrown out into the streets because all of the manufacturing and distrobution is done by robots and machines(Think of all the chain stores becoming automated), turn to these hackers for help and education. The black market thrives throughout an underground wireless network which uses wireless devices long ago banned by the goverment. Hackers are persecuted as is thought crime.

    The normal people live as slaves in archeologies and are never allowed to go outside but are terrified of all the violent evil people who regularily kill cops and hurt people, a war is regularily burning overseas with china or some other distant country. In 2-3 generations, the archeologies have become full of loyal sheep, while the hackers have become extremly hard
  • Re:bleh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jwilcox154 (469038) on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:03PM (#7129378) Homepage Journal
    "Then again, some upstart company may do the same to Phoenix as they did to IBM when they 'made' BIOS :-)"

    One Problem with that, the DMCA. If the DMCA would have existed 20 Years ago, IBM would have sued Phoenix & Compaq under the DMCA, and PCs today would still cost over $5000, because IBM would be the only PC manufacturer around. In other words, if someone reverse Engineers the new M$ BIOS, they would have Phoenix & Microsoft suing them under the DMCA.
  • by prepp (465299) on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:09PM (#7129400)
    uhm mate, you can run osx on most new-world ppc machines.
    HOWEVER, Apple doesnt allow it as per the license agreement.
  • Your honor, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SlimFastForYou (578183) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {namelosnok}> on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:12PM (#7129416) Journal
    Microsoft is clearly not a monopoly on the PC market. Why, what... with compeditors like....... err

  • DMCA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlimFastForYou (578183) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {namelosnok}> on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:21PM (#7129463) Journal
    I can see all the thick-skulled cops now..

    "Sonny, you clearly circumvented technological security mechanisms by using illegal software (MS didn't give it a run-license) to install Linux. You clearly broke the law and now it's federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison for you. Don't drop the soap, sucker! I despise scum like you."

    I hope people will keep in mind what legislation of technology does when they whine to their congressmen about spam. When you beg the government to make certain emails illegal, they have to define "illegal email". Now are you sure you would like the US Congress to define "illegal email" _for you_?
  • by kupci (642531) on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:25PM (#7129478)
    Very generous of the Slashdot crowd to defend MSFT, but seriously, since when has "fair" been part of MSFT's vocabulary? A better approach would be to take this wonderful improvement with a little scepticism.

    unless it was deliberately implemented

    I wonder if MSFT deliberately implemented the "feature" of not recognizing any non-MSFT OS on your harddrive, so that in order to dual-boot you need to make sure you install Windows _before_ you install Linux, etc.

    I think the problem here is MSFT is the 800lb gorilla, whether it was deliberate or not, it works in their favor to not work well with other OSes, so from a historical standpoint, it's likely there will be little glitches in the BIOS, that make it difficult to use non-Windows OSes.

    Another great example is the Winmodem. To the happy consumer, looks like great idea - save money, put all the hardware of a modem in software, vendor sells a cheaper modem .. but customer gets a slow, cheap modem that only works on Windows.

  • by mrbaldwin (677342) on Friday October 03, 2003 @08:10PM (#7129685) Homepage Journal
    Well. You can run BSD or Linux on an Apple machine. Apparently M$ is trying to make it so you can't on a PC.
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Friday October 03, 2003 @08:29PM (#7129766) Homepage Journal
    "Most of slashdot is disillusioned, thinking windows is 100% shitty."

    There's some truth to that. I'm sitting here using Windows 2000, but most of the Slashdotters stopped using Windows back at 95 or 98. Those OS's were 100% shitty. I will never defend either of them (or ME) because they really were incredibly unstable.

    Then the switch to Linux happens, and nobody has sat down and used Windows 2000. So they have no idea that the stability is a hell of a lot greater (it's based on NT instead of DOS) or that work can actually be done about it.

    I can't say I blame a lot of the peeps here who think the BSOD jokes are funny. I wish they'd understand that Windows development didn't suddenly stop in 1998, though.
  • by KiDas (669016) on Friday October 03, 2003 @08:38PM (#7129807)
    "The BIOS would also allow better control of unauthorised devices connected to a system, Microsoft said."

    hmm... and what exactly classifies as "unauthorized devices" and who decides?

    This could be a security plus if the control were in the hands of the users, but even then I can't really think of any situations where this would be needed. I don't know about you, but i have never had an "unauthorized device" in my computer. Obviously the system will be in the control of Windows/M$, definately not something we want.
  • Bleh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The Warlock (701535) on Friday October 03, 2003 @08:43PM (#7129831)
    This is probably going to turn out to be nothing, just like those rumors that HL2 would only work on nVidia cards.
  • by sheldon (2322) on Friday October 03, 2003 @09:03PM (#7129930)
    I'm seriously trying to remember the last time I was on slashdot, read one of the chicken little "Microsoft is going to cause the sky to fall!" stories and it turned out to be true.

    Hmm... Been reading since 1997 and can't think of a single instance.

    Looks like someone has a bad track record, and it isn't Microsoft.
  • by arr4 (607694) <arr4 AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @10:02PM (#7130223)

    Unless I woke up in crazy-verse this morning, no way every chipset, motherboard or cpu company (Cough..AMD Cough) would ever allow it to become a standard. So, net result, Phoenix wastes/spends R&D resources on a hunk of silicon that they have to patch every 14.666 minutes. Maybe they sell a hunk of windows only machines, but it will never become the standard, not even Intel would be that stupid.

    And microsoft would get bored with it...

  • by Daulnay (695892) on Friday October 03, 2003 @10:09PM (#7130258)
    Heh, I've seen the BSOD on Windows XP twice in the last week. More stable Windows may be, but still not adequate.
  • by Nevyn (5505) on Friday October 03, 2003 @10:22PM (#7130305) Homepage Journal
    Nope. Windows has excellent hardware support. It's easy to go to the store, buy a new card or something, and get it running in Win2k.

    The poster was saying that most "gamers" want something to play games on. Something they can easily put the latest 3D graphics hardware in, or the latest usb accessory ... and play games with. The fact that it runs windows is irrelevant. Of course some people do want windows to succeed, mainly for monetary reasons ... but I guess some people, at least at MS, must have emotional/philosophical/political reasons.

    Win2k (and even XP) are gaming friendly in terms of both hardware compatibility and stability.

    Frindlier than Linux, right now, almost certainly ... but it's a hell of a lot less friendly than a PS2, GameCube or even an Xbox.

  • Re:How long? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clem (5683) on Friday October 03, 2003 @10:56PM (#7130451) Homepage
    Seems to me that such a step on Phoenix's part will only guarantee themselves a smaller percentage of the market.

    The number of beige boxes that are sold to be Linux servers is not a trivial number. If you're Michael Dell, are you going to sell boxes that can't be installed with Linux?

    Even if Dell doesn't offer the greatest support for Linux, they know in their hearts that a good portion of those boxes are getting fresh installs of Linux once the reach their destination. Microsoft can merely bend market forces, it can't altogether break them.
  • Re:Except (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 3terrabyte (693824) on Friday October 03, 2003 @11:07PM (#7130489) Journal
    You mean goodbye upgrades.

    We'll still be able to hack away on our (ever increasingly) obsolete computers.

    Also, take a look at the 8-bit computer enthusiasts. These guys know every inch of their 8-bit computers, and can make them sing. You can probably build one from scratch from common chip parts. The 80886? (err...i'm drunk) Assembly is out there forever, and we can always program on that.

    My point is, that even though our dual 3 GHz machines will become obsolete by the time your prediction comes true, we can always hobble along on our own computers. What it takes engineers at Intel to make today, they'll be teaching high schoolers in 20 years. (see 8-bit paragraph above)

    Due to saving money for a house, I have been hobbling along on my 400mhz AMD computer since I built it in '98. Can't play the new games on it, but I can still rip & encode [my] CD's and DVD movies on it. Just what the RIAA and MPAA wouldn't want me to do today.

    All I'm saying is that your prediction of comptuer armageddon isn't going to happen so quickly or overnight. Blu-ray discs are coming out 'real-soon-now' for the last 2 years. Your 3 years? 5 years? is probably more like 8 years, 10 years. Scared of the BIOS market being stolen by M$? I envision Open-BIOS becoming a reality. Chip burners are becoming cheaper and more common. We can make our own. Or know someone that does. Also marketplace ca$h is what's going to drive all this. China/Malaysia pirate capital of the world will be the last place that moves to DRM. They'll continue to fill the market with non-DRM bios because there WILL be a market for that for a while. Thus add another 2-3 years to your armaggedon date.

  • You're Nuts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by love2hateMS (588764) on Friday October 03, 2003 @11:09PM (#7130493)
    Don't assume just because we use Linux personally that we don't face the reality of using Windows in our professional lives. I run a whole server room full of Win2k boxes. They are garbage. Do you know how much time I've spent installing patches and rebooting locked/frozen/fried boxes? My disgust for Microsoft comes from years of experience with their products, not just their predatory business practices.

    On the other hand, I also run a bunch of AIX and Linux boxes. They run some of our most critical applications. I never have to reboot them. I will repeat that. I NEVER have to reboot them.

    Yes, Windows 2000 is better than Windows 95. Big deal. My wristwatch is better than Windows 95.
  • Re:wont hurt Dell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 00420 (706558) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @12:15AM (#7130764)
    My stance is: they have the right to do this, and they have the ability to do this, but the marketplace, if enlightened to the dangers, won't allow them to succeed with it.

    I agree with your opinion, somewhat. The only problem is the average computer user doesn't know what a BIOS is, or what DRM means, and quite frankly most of them don't even care. They just want to make sure they can run Windows and access the internet.

    The only way for things to really change is for the common person to find out that they can get a better (or at least as good) operating system for free! But that probably won't happen until after everybody stops opening email atatchments and firewalls their system.
  • by shepd (155729) <<slashdot.org> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday October 04, 2003 @12:43AM (#7130850) Homepage Journal
    >why continue to make enablers for a product that is no longer supported and has been end-of-lifed?

    This is EXACTLY why Apple machines will never be used outside of graphics arts, video editing, and other professions where hardware changes constantly.

    Try telling that one to a production manager at a manufacturing facility. You'd get laughed out of a job. Hell, try telling it to a bank. Or (insert large chain store here), etc, etc.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:00AM (#7130908) Homepage
    First software, I believe. It's been getting more and more important for companies to protect their products. First came CD keys for online play. People came up with CD key generators.

    Uh first came online CD keys? Try again. Floppys with bad sectors (King's Quest anyone), hardware dongles, serial numbers, sheets printed in unreasonable colors, I've got a full binder of stuff you needed to run a game in the old days. In fact, the scaling back to a simple CD key is because they finally figured out it wasn't effective and it pissed off your legitimate customers.

    I use Daemon Tools also on my own, legitimately purchased CDs. If necessary I get the required crack so I don't have to look for the damn CD (if you knew my room, you wouldn't question why). Personally I see it as the last left-over of a time past. True central online services like MMORPGs or the UT2003 central server require CD keys, but for those I consider it part of the ToS for connecting to them, not a copy protection, at least not an effective one.

    I recently went back to Windows 2000 from XP. Why? Because when I copied my XP installation from my 120GB disk to my new 160GB disk, XP freaked totally and mentally. Couldn't get to a reactivation screen, nothing. Wouldn't allow me to install over either, just wierd errors. I can pretty safely say, it'll be a cold day in hell before XP or any future XP-line OS ends up on my disk ever again. By the time Windows 2000 is EoL'd, it'll be Linux. Tried using the Red Hat server in the corner as desktop, now if only I didn't miss my Windows apps that much...

    Morale is: Pirates will manage to pirate it. Do not piss off your customers in the futile process.

    Kjella
  • Re:Except (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Peaceful_Patriot (658116) <michelle@goldnug g e t w e bs.com> on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:42AM (#7131007) Homepage
    This might not be as bad as it sounds. Within a few years, Linux will be running on many large business and government systems around the world. We may be MS-centric here in the US, but the rest of the world is looking at alternatives.

    Someone will have to supply the hardware of the future to these new Linux users. There will be plenty of businesses who will cater to the non MS users of the world, and if you think Asia and India, someday they may outnumber the Windows users.
  • by Fastball (91927) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @02:22AM (#7131124) Journal
    Stability is a bare minimum. It took Microsoft a while to bring Windows up to some semblance of stability, but they have a lot of developers and vendors to bring into line with their product.

    I still favor Linux over Windows when it comes to stability, but there are several other facets of the Windows operation system and Microsoft philosophy that turn me (and likely other Slashdotters) off. First, security. I don't like my browser or mail client doing things I'm not explicitly aware of. I cannot use Windows with a clear conscience because of IE's and Outlook's persistent security failures. Add in IIS for Windows incarnations with IIS installed an running. This is compounded by the fact that these pieces of software cannot be uninstalled. I don't really care about the monopoly angle with the bundling of IE/Outlook. Linux distros "bundle" similar items if not more which I like. The difference is that if someone finds a bug in Mozilla that puts me or my network at risk, I can wipe it clean from my hard drive and fall back on alternative software packages.

    Cost is another obvious difference, but one that I think will eventually catch up to Microsoft more than any antitrust case or business practice. It's evolution, baby. The personal computer is still a wonderful, versatile thing. I use it to write, program, listen to music, watch movies, capture/edit/burn digital video, and game. But it isn't a new concept on which a business can build on and dominate market share any more. There are a growing number of open source software projects that meet or even exceed their commercial competitors capabilities. OpenOffice, Mozilla, and Apache to name a few. There's three software projects right there that are relevant to the corporate world's preoccupation with information technology.

    Commercial software that meets a need or niche that open source solutions cannot fill is going the way of the dinosaurs. They had their chance, but it's not the way I see software evolving. Why depend on a single commercial source for solutions when you can support a core group of developers in producing a piece of software that everyone can benefit from?

    I don't so much find Windows to be inferior. It's just that Linux and the canon of open source software built upon it make so much more sense financially, socially, and from an engineering standpoint.

  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @03:29AM (#7131293) Journal
    Other good reasons to use Linux:

    * It's incredibly easy to script and build new applications by tying together existing ones via pipes. The results are fast, reliable, and professional -- unlike AppleScript or VB-produced results. This is only relevant to tech users, but it's a big one.

    * It's free. Okay, for a professional with a decent salary, the cost of Windows vs Linux itself -- the base package -- really isn't significant. A hundred or two hundred bucks is not a big deal. However, to purchase commercial equivalents of all the Linux apps I use would be extremely expensive. Compilers (think Visual Studio), editors (think Visual SlickEdit), mail clients (think Eudora), system monitors (think all manner of shareware apps), sound editors (think Cakewalk), image editors (think Photoshop), web servers (think IIS), code checkers (think Gimpel Lint), graphing programs (think Visio), math/statistics packages (think MATLAB), and all the rest, there is a *lot* of money involved. Sure, you can pirate it, but that's not an option at work, and pirating software is less and less trivial with the surging prevalance of phone-home features.

    * It's secure. Traditionally UNIX (and its apps) have had tighter security design than Windows, especially WRT local security. A couple of Microsoft apps are phenomonally insecure (MSIE, Outlook), and most Windows apps don't have the same emphasis on avoiding attacks.

    * It gives better performance. My workstation runs a large set of servers in the background. I don't notice. I have a friend that runs a Windows FTP server that he kills off when he wants to take all the CPU time on his system.

    * I can fix bugs that piss me off. If I have an issue, I happen to be a coder, so I can run out and fix it without just complaining to a company's forums and hoping that something happens. I can add features that I want. Obviously, this benefit isn't nearly as good if you aren't a coder, but it's something to consider.

    * I can actually see what's going on. Linux has a strong tradition of talking about and letting you see what's *actually* happening on your system. The startup system is just a bunch of scripts that are quite readable. In contrast, if you pick up a book designed for a Microsoft administrator, you'll get a bunch of Microsoft-invented terms ("Enable a service"...am I starting a process listening on a port or what? What the hell is happening?) This also makes troubleshooting much better.

    * A richer toolkit. For at least coders, network admins, and security types, good tools exist that have no Windows equivalent. (The reverse tends to be true when it comes to office workers.)

    * Choice. If I use Windows, I also must use Explorer, like it or not (and I don't). I can't use the kernel or Windows software without also using the expected file manager (yes, there have been a few hacks to try "replacing" Explorer, such as LiteStep, but they're flaky...more neat toys than pratical tools). On Linux, I have more window managers available than I have fingers. I have a whole collection of file managers. I have docks galore. I can choose my favorite from each category and use that.

    * Better design. The fact that Linux uses better file-locking semantics, the fact that Linux uses symlinks instead of shortcuts, the fact that it's easier to write a reliable Linux driver than a reliable Windows driver, all have strong trickle-down effects to the user in the form of fewer reboots, more flexibility in file system layout and control, and a more reliable system.
  • Re:Windows 2000 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hamster foo (697718) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @03:58AM (#7131350)
    I dual boot Gentoo and Windows XP on my laptop. I generally use Windows most of the time only booting into Gentoo when I need to do PHP development or just to mess around with things. Given that I haven't had any projects to work on in a while, I don't spend a lot of time in Gentoo.

    Out of the two operating systems, I've experienced more crashes in Gentoo. These were caused by misconfiguring power management on the laptop. I can't remember the last time Windows crashed or did anything "flaky", although, I'm sure it was also caused by something that was either misconfigured or some other thing that I did. I'm not about to argue that Linux is less stable than Windows based on these experiences. There are a lot of people on here who can go back and forth with crashes/quirks they've experienced on Windows 2000/XP and on Linux. The vast majority of those crashes will have been the result of something being misconfigured, a hardware problem, or some application doing something crazy. Most modern OSes are stable for those using them in a desktop environment. People will and do have problems, but personal accounts are really not a good way to refute or support the stability of an operating system.
  • by doctormetal (62102) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @06:48AM (#7131636)
    I feel compelled to point out that there's nothing in the article SAYING the bios would prevent other OSes from being installed. Nor, from the description, there is no reason it would have to happen, unless it was deliberately implemented.

    And one important thing: neither phoenix nor microsoft produces mainboard. Most mainboard makers come from Asia and those countries have repeatedly shown not to trust microsoft. Lets see if they want to put such a bios on their mainboards.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04, 2003 @07:53AM (#7131811)
    >And if an os 9 solution is still working, there's no reason to stop using it, until OS X can or must be installed.

    Yes, there is a reason to stop using it.

    The reason is future maintenance and the ability to continue selling your product.

    You'd be absolutely flabbergasted at how many products are still being sold in vertical markets where it is CRITICAL that 10 year old software still function. Clearly these are not markets Apple ever wishes to enter, because with that attitude, they can't.
  • Re:Except (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigBlockMopar (191202) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @11:37AM (#7132813) Homepage

    Someone will have to supply the hardware of the future to these new Linux users. There will be plenty of businesses who will cater to the non MS users of the world, and if you think Asia and India, someday they may outnumber the Windows users.

    Yeah, that's true. There will always be someone selling motherboards with real non-Billified BIOS.

    But, given Microsoft's security track record, should we even be worried? X-box was designed with a lot less attention to retaining backward compatibility than a motherboard will require by the very nature of the PC market. That backward compatibility gives one attack vectors to break the BIOS and get their computer back, and yet even without those loopholes, X-box can run Linux. I predict that it will be less than 2 weeks after their release before some 15-year-old has put up an exploit that allows you to boot *your* computer with the operating system *you* choose.

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