According to an article posted on BoingBoing, Fedora Linux has agreed to pay Microsoft what amounts to an access tax which will allow Fedora products to run on MS locked down hardware.
A quiet announcement from the Fedora Linux community signals a titanic shift in the way that the computer market will work from now on, and a major threat to free/open operating systems. Microsoft and several PC vendors have teamed up to ensure that only operating systems bearing Microsoft’s cryptographic signature will be able to boot on their hardware, meaning that unless Microsoft has blessed your favorite flavor of GNU/Linux or BSD, you won’t be able to just install it on your machine, or boot to it from a USB stick or CD to try it out.
Microsoft’s practice is facilitated by the UEFI, or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, which allows a manufacturer to lock down the boot process so that it will only work on their specified conditions. (For an explanation of the UEFI in general, see Sebastian Anthony’s ExtremeTech article.)
We don’t judge Fedora for doing what they felt was necessary to facilitate their operations. However, the implications of Microsoft taking advantage of the UEFI to exclude open source products from being installed on the hardware you own are huge.
Update from the comments:
The Boing Boing article is inaccurate about the $99 going to Microsoft. The actual article that they link to states that the $99 actually goes to Verisign to get a code signing certificate and you can sign as much stuff as you want after that within the validity of the certificate.