Want control of your next PC? Don’t wait, complain now.

All over the tech press we can read articles about proposals for the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. A couple of days ago in The Register we saw:

Microsoft wants firmware to only start authorised OSes

If the draft for UEFI is adopted without modification, then any system that ships with only OEM and Microsoft keys will not boot a generic copy of Linux.

Today we can read a statement by a Microsoft spokesman, Tony Mangefeste:

Secure boot is a UEFI protocol, rather than a specific Windows 8 feature, and “Microsoft does not mandate or control the settings on PC firmware that control or enable secured boot from any operating system other than Windows

OEMs have the ability to customize their firmware to meet the needs of their customers by customizing the level of certificate and policy management on their platform

which doesn’t really address the issue, as any end-user that uses “customer power” to contact an OEM will find out pretty slowly.

What to do?

This is all about bundling. And we have been here before.

Some people might draw parallels with the policy adopted by Apple. Except of course whatver one might think about tying OS X to Apple hardware, from a competition policy perspective they are well below the threshold which is deemed to be capable of distorting the market. Microsoft are in a different position.

At the beginning of the decade much was made of the relationship between Microsoft and OEMs. The best titled article:

“He who controls the bootloader”

doesn’t seem to be available anymore, however Kuro5hin discusses its content and relevant complaints by a journalist to the European Commission.

Since then of course we have had the Court of First Instance decision concerning abuse of a dominant position by product tying.

However, if you don’t don’t want to be dealing with this after the event, don’t get mad, get in contact with the EC Competition Commission:

You can report your concerns by e-mail to comp-market-information@ec.europa.eu. Please indicate your name and address, identify the firms and products concerned and describe the practice you have observed. This will help the Commission to detect problems in the market and be the starting point for an investigation.

UPDATE: we’re not alone in our concerns.

— Gerry Gavigan, Chair, 23 September, updated 26 September 2011, EC details, 27 June 2012

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