Microsoft Confirms Lockdown of ARM Devices Running Windows 8
Microsoft is at it again. First, they forced many mobile device OEMs to pay a fee for every Android device shipped. Now they want to put the stranglehold on manufacturers wishing to use ARM with Windows 8. In their infinite wisdom, Microsoft has decided that customers who purchase a Windows 8 devices with ARM architecture must not be able to load any other operating system other than what shipped with it.
Their Windows 8 Hardware Certification Requirements point to a “custom” secure boot mode via UEFI, allowing users to add signatures for alternative operating systems, and thus enabling that device to boot the operating system. That doesn’t apply to ARM devices though, as this “custom” mode is explicitly prohibited by requirements:
On an ARM system, it is forbidden to enable Custom Mode. Only Standard Mode may be enable.
Disabling Secure [Boot] MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems.
What this means for XDA Developers, and the development community as a whole, is that unless a security exploit with UEFI is found, no ARM device with Windows 8 will ever run anything other than Windows 8 and Metro UI. When previously questioned about rumors of this restriction, Microsoft’s Tony Mangefeste stated, “Microsoft’s philosophy is to provide customers with the best experience first, and allow them to make decisions themselves.” Evidently what he really meant to say was, “Microsoft’s philosophy is to provide customers with our experience, which is the best, and to make sure that’s all they use.” Sound like another OS and hardware manufacturer to you?
Unlocking a bootloader isn’t anything new to developers at XDA—just look at what has been done with HTC’s HBOOT and SBK on ASUS devices—but UEFI’s secure boot mode would seem to hold a whole new set of restrictions not previously encountered. Let’s hope that is not the case, and the development community will find a way to get around Microsoft’s ridiculous, and quite obvious, attempt to keep customers from using Android or Linux on devices manufactured with Windows 8 in mind.
Source: Software Freedom Law Center