An Open Letter to PC Manufacturers Concerning Secure Boot

by Rod Smith, rodsmith@rodsbooks.com

Last Web page update: 9/23/2011

Introduction

I wrote the below letter to several computer manufacturers because of concerns I have about the upcoming implementation of secure boot features in PCs. My concerns are detailed in my main page on the topic. I sent the letter to the PC manufacturers listed here. If you're concerned about this topic, I recommend you send your own letter. Feel free to use ideas expressed in my letter, but it's best if you write it in your own words.

The Letter

September 23, 2011

To whom it may concern,

I have recently learned that future computers must ship with the UEFI "secure boot" feature enabled in order to qualify for Microsoft's Windows 8 logo. Although I have no objections to such a requirement in and of itself, I am concerned about the possible implications of deploying computers with a poorly-conceived implementation of this feature. In particular, if users are given inadequate control of this feature, they will be unable to use their own computers in the ways they desire. Some specific actions that might become impossible include:

Despite the fact that Windows holds a dominant place in the PC operating system market, owners have a legitimate need to make decisions concerning the fundamental operation of their computers. Many home and business computer owners have a legitimate need to dual-boot their computers with other operating systems or to run data recovery tools booted from an external medium from time to time. If they are unable to do so because the firmware prevents them from running their chosen software on their own computers, the consequences are likely to include reduced sales, increased return rates, increased warranty repair requests, decreased customer satisfaction, and reduced repeat sales.

To avoid these problems, I strongly recommend that your Windows 8 computers all include the following two features, preferably implemented in the UEFI firmware's user interface rather than in a Windows application:

Please consider these matters carefully. I would hate to see your computers become Windows-only appliances when they can be much more than that.

Sincerely,

Dr. Roderick W. Smith


If you have problems with or comments about this web page, please e-mail me at rodsmith@rodsbooks.com. Thanks.

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