Microsoft Shuts Windows on New PC Firmware

News Analysis: Microsoft has pushed back plans to support of UEFI, a new type of PC firmware, in its forthcoming Windows Vista for PCs. Where the move isn't likely to disrupt the PC market, it shows the software maker continues to pare down Vista f

Microsoft has pushed back its plans to support a new type of PC firmware, called UEFI, or United Extensible Firmware Interface, which has begun working its way into the PC market.

Microsoft said in a presentation during last weeks Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco that the software giant would roll out UEFI support—adopting the new firmware, which was created for Itanium servers but then repositioned to take over for PC BIOS or basic input output system software—in its Longhorn server, due in 2007.

However, the company will not offer support for UEFI in the first version of Windows Vista, its new PC OS slated for launch in November, as it had planned originally.

UEFI support will be added to "subsequent 64-bit client releases," instead, according to an IDF presentation by Andrew Ritz, development manager at the company, in Redmond, Wash.

The new stance reverses a potion that both Vista and Longhorn Server would support both EFI and BIOS.

This isnt the first landmark feature Microsoft has dropped from Vista in an effort to deliver the OS.

The software maker dropped WinFS (Windows File System) from the OS in an effort to meet a goal for getting it out the door in 2006.

It said in February that Vista is feature-complete, meaning it would not add anymore features, although features were not prevented from being be cut.

Despite UEFIs promise—the specification represents the first revision of PC firmware since the inception of the IBM PC clone market and mainly offers to make PCs more stable—the move doesnt appear to as large a development as was the WinFS decision, industry observers said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifWhats inside Microsofts six releases of Windows Vista? Click here to read more.

Instead, the shift appears to reflect more on the outlook for 64-bit software on the desktop, than Microsofts opinion of the firmware itself.

UEFI promises to lead to fewer headaches for IT staff by creating more stable and manageable desktops and notebooks, in addition to servers.

The interface offers a standardized way for a PCs firmware, the underlying software that controls its hardware, to interact with its operating system.

The new interface offers a standard method for accounting for hardware installed in a machine, loading its operating system, as well as running pre-boot applications, which can be used for tasks such as systems management or recovery.

By standardizing those interactions, UEFI promises to cut down on conflicts, which affect system stability.

It also adds lends greater flexibility to boot-options, allowing machines to boot from new mediums such as network-attached storage, and pre-boot software, such as management applications.

Next Page: Microsofts balancing act.