Windows Secrets Newsletter: Goodbye to PC BIOS, hello to UEFI!

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By Woody Leonhard/Windows Secrets Newsletter

If you’ve ever struggled with your PC’s BIOS — or been knee-capped by a rootkit that assailed the BIOS — you undoubtedly wondered why this archaic part of every PC wasn’t scrapped long ago.

Well, be of good cheer: Windows 8 will finally pull the PC industry out of the BIOS generation and into a far more capable — and controversial — alternative, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface.

To best understand where we’re headed, it’s helpful to look at where we’ve been. An integral part of every PC, the Basic Input/Output System spans the entire history of the personal computer — more than 30 years. The very first IBM PC had a BIOS. And despite extraordinary advances in hardware and software, the BIOS we still puzzle over today is not much different from the one in that original PC.

Essentially a miniature OS, the BIOS has a simple but critical function — when a PC powers up, the BIOS checks that all hardware is in order (the POST or “power-on self-test” sequence); fires up the full operating system on the machine, such as Windows (using OS loader code); and then hands all control of the computer over to the OS.

Although older operating systems (such as DOS) relied on the BIOS to perform input and output functions, modern OSes (including Windows) have their own device drivers and completely bypass the BIOS after they’re up and running.

These days, it’s rare that a PC user is forced to invoke the BIOS’s cryptic and somewhat enigmatic user interface. Usually, it’s in response to some near-catastrophic system failure.

Here’s the rest of the story.

This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.

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2 thoughts on “Windows Secrets Newsletter: Goodbye to PC BIOS, hello to UEFI!”

  1. Well I personally would never buy a Windows 8 computer or tablet, but if I did you can be sure that it would not take long to figure out how to get around Microsoft’s lame lock em in restrictions.

    While I certainly may not own the operating system when I buy the hardware, I most certainly do own the hardware and I will do whatever I please with my hardware, and do it legally, and there isn’t a court in this country that legally stop me.

    You can look forward to the Linux community not only finding a way to break the Microsoft crap but to do it before or as soon as releases such a restrictive policy.

    I would venture to bet that some hardware manufacturers will tell MS to take a hike.

    I can think of more than one such company already. 😉

    It figures that MS would be looking to “exploit” what is otherwise a great addition to the technology world to do what they haven’t been able to do in the past, lock down “hardware” with the same kind of restrictions they have been trying for years, none of which have been successful yet, and trying to exploit UEFI to do it will fail miserably for them also.

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