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Dec 28 2018

Microsoft Introduces “Project Mu”

Redmond's Devices Team has developed its own open-source version of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) core already used in products such as the Surface laptop series or recent editions of Hyper-V.

Presumably named after a mythical lost continent, Project Mu is intended to help users overcome real and perceived limitations of the older UEFI implementation TianoCore, which allegedly was "not optimized for rapid servicing across multiple product lines," as the engineers claim on the Windows blog. To solve this issue and others, they have essentially taken TianoCore and "adapted" it to better suit today's Windows PCs. As it stands, this resulted in an open-source solution that is easily scalable, maintainable and reusable and could be used to deliver Firmware-as-a-Service (FaaS). This, in turn, might help ICT vendors to distribute firmware upgrades more frequently and regularly and thus fix security holes in various devices., some of which have caused quite a stir in recent years. Moreover, Project Mu also removes unnecessary legacy code to reduce the attack surface, provides secure management of UEFI settings, adds a high-performance boot process, and includes a test and tool suite that will help developers to analyze and optimize their UEFI code, all accessible via a modern boot menu and onscreen keyboard.

The concept of delivering firmware as a service definitely provides some advantages over the current delivery model, in which updates/upgrades typically arrive infrequently, too late, or both. As a result, routers, smart TVs, IoT devices and the like are relatively simple to manipulate and often serve as springboards for rapid and widespread infections – prominent examples include 2014's Heartbleed and last year's VPNFilter. On the other hand, many users may wonder whether this was the best time to announce a project with such potentially far-reaching consequences at the tail end of a year in which Microsoft has been severely criticized for botching two subsequent Windows 10 upgrades.

For detailed information, please visit the Project Mu webpage. Code samples are available from GitHub.


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