Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at

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7 responses to “Follow-up: Microsoft-Fedora Pact Has Dire Unanswered Questions”

  1. Chris Tyler

    This article presupposes that Windows RT devices will ship in some significant numbers, and that these systems will be attractive targets for Fedora deployment. This is a big assumption.

    At present, Windows RT has no market presence whatsoever; this is probably why Microsoft feels comfortable making such a bold policy regarding ARM secure boot — it isn’t likely to attract antitrust attention. It is unknown whether Windows RT will gain any significant market presence; in fact, Microsoft’s insistence upon competing with hardware vendors (by introducing the Surface tablet) may make this market really unattractive for those vendors.

    Therefore, ignoring the potential problem of locked-down ARM devices and instead focusing on the hundreds of currently-available and planned devices which are not locked down is a reasonable approach for the Fedora ARM project.

    Chris Tyler
    Industrial Research Chair in Open Source Technology for Emerging Platforms
    Seneca College Centre for Development of Open Technology
    Fedora ARM Project

  2. Christopher Price

    Microsoft doesn’t think it’s a big assumption. Metro is geared towards doing more with less. Metro apps are designed to run on ARM first, x86 second. Metro apps are the vanguard of both Windows RT and Windows 8.

    Over the 3-5 year lifespan of Windows RT, ARM is only going to continue to increase its uptake in the market.

    And, as OEMs face tablet market demand rising, and desktop/laptop demand continuing to be tepid, or even falling further in demand, in the face of current economic conditions, ARM desktops and laptops will continue to rise in interest.

    We do not think it is a large assumption that, by mid-way though Windows 8’s lifespan, that Windows RT desktops and laptops will be sold alongside Windows 8 machines, in a manner that the average consumer will have difficulty differentiating. This was a goal of Windows RT from its outset.

    Microsoft has said they want the average user to not be able to distinguish a Windows RT machine from Windows 8, and have gone to great lengths to ensure this – even breaking Windows RT’s own rules to permit Office 2013 to run in Desktop mode. Microsoft wants to break free of its dependence on Intel, and AMD has proven to be a troublesome, if not ineffective deterrent to that reliance.

    But the bottom line remains, Fedora, and Red Hat, as well as Microsoft refuse to acknowledge whom is blocking the release of Fedora ARM on Windows ARM systems. We believe it was a term Microsoft imposed, and Red Hat consented to, but we cannot confirm that.

    Perhaps Chris, you could clarify if that is a Microsoft-imposed restriction on this agreement, and if Red Hat consented to that restriction.

  3. Tom S

    Even if is making an assumption that ARM will take off, that’s the safer of the two assumptions.

    To presume Windows-on-ARM will not take off, is a much more dangerous assumption for the Linux community. The Linux community needs to ensure that regulators understand that consumers won’t be able to differentiate an ARM Desktop from an x86 Desktop, and antitrust-grade restrictions will poison the well on future innovations… like Android for Desktop.

  4. Chris Tyler

    “But the bottom line remains, Fedora, and Red Hat, as well as Microsoft refuse to acknowledge whom is blocking the release of Fedora ARM on Windows ARM systems. We believe it was a term Microsoft imposed, and Red Hat consented to, but we cannot confirm that.”

    This sounds like a conspiracy or at least back-room negotiations are happening. The reality is much simpler: MS has imposed a set of conditions on the boot process which vendors must meet if they want to license Windows RT for their products. Those conditions are simply unworkable for open source software, and so at this time there are no plans to support Fedora ARM on Windows RT devices. Simply signing the bootloader and kernel is not a viable option, since shipping a system where the user can’t build and then boot a custom kernel does not align with Fedora (or, more generally, Open Source and Free Software) principles.

    There are no shortage of devices on which Fedora ARM can be run, and this is not expected to change – the number of available ARM devices will continue to grow dramatically. Windows RT devices will represent some portion of that market (whether a miniscule, small, or large portion remains to be seen), and the boot situation on those devices is unclear. There may be alternate firmware available for those devices, vendors may choose to ship two versions of the devices (one for Android/Fedora/Everything-but-RT, and one for RT), or MS may change their vendor boot requirements due to regulatory, judicial, or market pressures.

    Chris Tyler

  5. Steven Goldfein

    Thanks Chris.

  6. Red Hat Does Not Want to Defend Its Position on UEFI | Techrights

    […] the UEFI scheme of convicted monopolist Microsoft. One person wrote to get our attention and show how Fedora/Red Hat dodge a legitimate point of criticism. Here is the crux of it all: When we ran our original report, we noted that Fedora did not mention […]