MS drops EFI, MD drops DESI (and Columbian shoots a riff)

Welcome to today's IT Blogwatch, in which Microsoft drops EFI boot support in Vista, and Maryland drops Diebold voting machines. Not to mentionb a modern take on turning swords into plowshares ...

Microsoft is to drop EFI support in Vista, as Technology Filter blog reports: "Microsoft dashed a few more hopes for Vista coolness today, by announcing that it wouldn't support EFI booting for Windows Vista -- at least not until the Longhorn Server versions roll out. EFI is the Extensible Firmware Interface, and it takes the place of the old fashioned and much less flexible PC BIOS technology ... OS X over Intel will boot over EFI -- and one hardware platform can't use both EFI and BIOS. That means folks looking to dual-boot twixt OS X and Vista are out of luck ... BIOS technology is outdated -- way outdated. By comparison, EFI may not be bleeding edge, but it's much more cutting edge than BIOS and mature enough to be reliable. Plus, it represents the consistent booting environment that would make implementing technologies like USB so much easier ... this isn't the first promised feature Microsoft's winnowed down. Starting to make me pretty lukewarm to it all."

» The Pond: "I'm not sure what Microsoft has to gain by not supporting EFI. It doesn't seem like it would be a big deal. They may even sell a few more copies of Vista to Intel Mac owners who buy it for…uh…the sake of curiosity? ... I’m just unclear on why Microsoft would want to cut Vista out of 'the next generation of IA-32'. I mean, if XP is any indication, it will take…what…six years or so before Windows Supra (this is what i’m calling the next version of windows -- or should it be XP service pack 4?) comes out ...  Apple's vision of tightly coupled hardware and software obviously has MS jealous, but it may well be too late for that -- MS is the 'run on any intel' OS ... the hardware industry is picking up speed and Microsoft is slowing down. Apple moves the two in a pretty good lockstep, and has gone from the 'they're going to fold in 3 months' to 'what is apple going to release in 3 months' company."

The State of Maryland is to drop Diebold, as Marc L Songini reports: "Maryland stands poised to put its entire $90 million investment in Diebold Election Systems Inc. touch-screen e-voting systems on ice because they can’t produce paper receipts ... Delegates this week voted 137-0 [a pretty convincing result] to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections ... legislation calls for the state to lease paper-based optical-scan systems for this year's votes. State Delegate Anne Healey estimated the leasing cost at $12.5 million to $16 million for the two elections ... If the bill becomes law, the state's Diebold systems will be placed in 'abeyance' and the vendor will be required to equip them so that they provide the requisite paper trail, she said. Healey said the law would require that the machines provide a paper trail before the 2008 elections or Diebold would risk losing its contract with the state ... any leased optical-scan system be equipped to accommodate the needs of handicapped voters, to ensure compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act statutes ... A Diebold spokesman said the company will 'certainly work with the state of Maryland, as we always have, to support their elections as they see fit.'"

» Nightshade is happy with the decision: "I am so very happy about this. I have never trusted the Diebold machines. They have serious problems that have been documented by TrueVoteMD. It's the group that was pushing to have them replaced in Maryland ... this was a good move for Governor Ehrlich. I rarely agree with him, but on this one, he was right."

» Polunatic: "Certainly a step in the right direction. However, paper receipts should not become a panacea for all that's wrong with voting machines. Just because there's a paper receipt that can be used for auditing, doesn't mean that the inner workings of the voting machines can't be rigged."  Which brought a comment from anonymous over the border: "I just don't see what's wrong with a piece of paper and a pencil. I mean our elections are over by 11 or 12 pm in Canada and we're handcounting. I think this year it was pretty clear even earlier than that out here in BC. Plus no questions after either whereas the questioning with voting machines can go on forever after the votes done. The idea that voting machines make it easier is a massive lie."

Buffer overflow:

And finally... Columbian guitar gun -- this rifle rocks!

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk. Also contributing to today's post: Judi Dey, our very own Antipodean.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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