Microsoft To ARM Win8 Tablet Makers: No Dual Boot For You

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This may seem a bit of inside baseball, but it’s a fairly interesting fact for folks looking forward to thin-and-light Win8 devices running ARM chips rather than Intel. According Computer World, devices running ARM versions of Win8 will not be able to run other OSes, like Android, thanks to something called Secure Boot.

A version of Secure Boot is built into many mobile devices – namely phones and tablets – in order to avoid bootloader mobile attacks and, obviously, to keep things locked down. Windows Phone, for example, prevents folks from installing anything into the bootloader nor can they run off-brand software. However, folks love them some Linux and for these devices to be completely locked down could disappoint the hacker contingent.

Microsoft says that you can disable Secure Boot on larger systems, however, noting in the design documents:

MANDATORY: Enable/Disable Secure Boot. On non-ARM systems, it is required to implement the ability to disable Secure Boot via firmware setup. A physically present user must be allowed to disable Secure Boot via firmware setup without possession of Pkpriv. Programmatic disabling of Secure Boot either during Boot Services or after exiting EFI Boot Services MUST NOT be possible. Disabling Secure MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems.

It’s clear from this that Windows 8 is both a mobile and a desktop OS, depending on the install. The question, then, is what you lose in the move to ARM chips? More info as we get it.