Friday, 11 November 2011

New Costs for Windows 8 Firmware Devices

When a new technology appears, invariably the laws of supply and demand kick in a quick way. There is very little supply, but there will be a lot of demand. That translates to a high cost. So, with the new Windows 8 OS under development and with all of the talk about new technologies being implemented, what do you think will happen to costs. Right. We pay the costs.

So here is what is happening with Windows 8 production costs. The new verification system, OA 3.0 will add complications and costs to the devices produced by Original Device Manufacturers (ODM’s), this then in turn goes to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) who in turn pass the costs to the consuming public.

OA 3.0

At the heart of this development is the observation that the new BIOS will incorporate Onboard Administrator (OA) 3.0. What we are actually talking about here is UEFI firmware devices, which translates into fast startup mode. It acts as a hybrid between a standard cold boot and restoring your PC from a hibernated state. It is a feature that all Windows 8 certified systems must have.

number2 21 400x117 New Costs for Windows 8 Firmware Devices

How it works

In a traditional shutdown, the OS closes all open user sessions, then in the kernel session the OS closes services and devices to prepare for a complete shutdown.

In the new shutdown, something else happens. The user session still closes, but the kernel session goes into hibernation. However it saves the system state and memory contents to a file on disk called hiberfil.sys and it then reads that back in on resume and restoring contents back to memory.

Now, here is the clincher, because the same technique is used in boot mode. By reading the hiberfil.sys and reinitializing drivers, this make boot up time anywhere from 30-70% faster.

So while this may make the system start faster, some questions appear on the horizon. This boot method is not a cold boot, and there may be degradation, so eventually the restart will become a cold boot. Also, can’t Microsoft make the cold boot any faster, or is that as fast as it can occur?

OEM Activationnumber13 400x170 New Costs for Windows 8 Firmware Devices

While BIOS activation may look like a new feature in Windows 8, it actually appeared in XP, Vista and Windows 7. It contained a certificate of authority (COA), which made it a legitimate product. But Windows 8 will bypass this and go directly to the source, Microsoft, for legitimate activation.

So while the faster and legitimate activation process is underway, there will be new costs to make this process take place.

Additional Costs

Instead of shipping PCs with a COA, the UEFI firmware will have keys incorporated into the system, but this will increase production costs for ODMs because each machine will require individual attention to place the key into the UFI firmware (rather than just sticking on the COA). Another cost involves technicians who will also require more training to perform that operation. Finally, remember that Microsoft charges a per-install fee, so having to install a second key because of an error would increase costs, thus the absence of a certificate on the machine could also increase costs because of installation overlap that may occur.

Finally, Microsoft also well known for its spirited operations with partners may be looking at finding a way for others to work through the costs. Apparently, some brand vendor ODMs believe that Microsoft told them that notebook ODMs will pay for the additional costs, while at the same time they told notebook ODMs that brand vendors will pay for the additional costs. So where will the costs ultimately get addressed? Hmm, you and me is probably the safe bet.

Fast Startup Mode

Production Costs

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