Microsoft is working closely with BIOS maker Phoenix Technologies to ensure that future versions of Windows work more closely with a PC's BIOS and have more direct control over hardware. The new, expanded relationship between the companies is designed to make PCs easier to use and more reliable, Microsoft says. But consumer-rights advocates are already up in arms, arguing that the deal will help the companies force Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies on customers; this technology, they say, could reduce the control users have over their computers.
A PC's BIOS is the basic system software that runs before Windows boots; it controls low-level system tasks such as the order in which devices boot. By more closely integrating Windows with the BIOS, Microsoft can combine its upcoming Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) technology with Phoenix's Core Managed Environment (cME), which includes DRM technology. The companies say that cME and NGSCB are currently complementary technologies that users can disable.
"This \[deal\] is a pivotal change for the industry, and it will rapidly advance serviceability, deployment, and management for servers, mobile devices, and desktops," Tom Phillips, general manager of the Microsoft Windows Hardware Experience Group, said. "Effectively, Phoenix is creating an entirely new category of system software."