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12/30/2003: Technologica Technologica

Writing an end to the bio of BIOS
By John G. Spooner, CNET

Intel and Microsoft are gearing up to move toward the first major overhaul of the innermost workings of the personal computer--the boundary where software and hardware meet--during 2004.

The companies will begin promoting a technology specification called EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) as a new system for starting up a PC's hardware before its operating system begins loading, a process that kicks in every time a PC is switched on or restarted.

The pair will establish a forum to promote the specification as a standard. If EFI-based software is accepted broadly, it could prompt the first changing of the guard in preboot software in the history of the PC industry--even though some critics say the transition may take a while or may not happen at all.

Right now, the task of getting a PC's hardware ready to accept the operating system is handled by software called BIOS, or basic input/output system. While the BIOS was once relatively straightforward in its design, over the years it has morphed into a figurative bowl of spaghetti as it's been changed and updated to accept new technologies.

Will this lead to faster booting, more powerful computing, or is this just another Microsoft ploy to exert tyrannical control of the computing market? Stay tuned.