I (thankfully) am no longer involved in the sharp end of the computer world. These days I sit and giggle from the sidelines. Computer fads come and go, and for the most part they just ‘go’. Something better arrives the next week and we all move on.

Much like life the constitution the computer industry had two warring factions. The framers of the constitution made a clear demarcation, there was government, and there was religion. The two should never become close.
In the computer world we have hardware and software. With each new ‘next big thing’ from the hardware side, the software folks have done their best to bury the hardware in programs.

I rather enjoyed the war, there were no casualties, it was pure fun. “I have a faster processor” said the hardware guy. “Well we can bury it in new software features” said the programmer.

It was a space race, and a fun one. It provided a harmless outlet for creativity. Did the buyer win? Yes would be my answer. People found unique and creative ways to explore the vista.

Today we have a very different situation. The most troubling aspect is that the hardware and software folks are joining forces. The chips (engines) that will power Windows 8 apparently are designed to only run Windows 8. To me this is akin to buying a car and being told that only fuel from Shell will work.

Why would Intel even consider this idiot idea? Oh, and this is not just an idiot idea, it is fact
.
If I buy something, I think I should be able to use it however I want. If I want to re-purpose a gallon Ice Cream tub into a planter for herbs, I should be allowed to.

Alas this same analogy is not true in the world of technology. Increasingly the consumer is being limited as to what can and can not be done with stuff that the consumer buys. This problem has been brewing for years. Much of the limitations are purely ridiculous. The DVD region code is a fine example.

The latest debacle is even worse. Under the thin disguise of security (it is for our own good) there is a very good chance that if you buy a system preloaded with Windows 8 you will be stuck with running Windows. With Secure Boot Microsoft have effectively shut out other competitors.

In my mind Secure Boot not only is uncompetitive it also limits consumer choice.

In market share terms Linux is hardly a threat to Microsoft at the Desk Top or Lap Top level and Secure Boot is nothing more than a spiteful move to limit consumer choice.

Simon Barrett

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