Microsoft's new secure boot functionality in Windows 8 could prevent some users from running both Windows and Linux on their pre-built PCs. These machines conform to the Windows 8 logo program and run client versions of Windows 8 with secure boot enabled.
The UEFI not only promises to spruce up the boot experience; it also secures the device as the UEFI secure boot protocol is part of recent UEFI specification releases. It permits one or more signing keys to be installed into a system firmware. Secure boot prevents executables or drivers from being loaded unless they have been signed by one of these keys.
This is a good feature for blocking malware and rootkits at startup but it might also mean that users will not be able to dual-boot an alternative OS unless it has been signed by a certificate authority, and the key that it is signed with is shipped on the system. It may be too early to lampoon Microsoft for their apparent effort to keep our computing devices safe and secure.
Microsoft will continue to support the legacy BIOS interface in Windows 8, so current machines dual-booting Windows 7 and Linux should be able to upgrade to Windows 8 with no issues. Microsoft only requires new systems conforming to the Windows 8 logo program to ship with UEFI and secure boot enabled. Hence, consumers are advised to keep this limitation in mind as they shop for pre-built PCs in the near future.