Microsoft's Project Mu aims to ease UEFI creation and updates


It's pretty much common knowledge that motherboard firmware quality can be hit-or-miss, to put it rather mildly. Far too often we've reviewed high-end circuit slabs tainted by undercooked UEFI implementations. Microsoft, of all companies, thinks it can help with its recently announced Project Mu.

Project Mu is based on the open-source TianoCore EDK II UEFI development environment. To simplify, it's a carefully structured set of tools and code for developers to roll their own UEFI implementations. The team originally tried to use TianoCore for its products, but found it was difficult to do so across multiple lineups. Microsoft says that Mu's development and build process is tuned for quick iteration, reusability, and ease of updates.

The company uses the term "FaaS" (Firmware as a Service) when discussing Mu, but what it boils down to is that anyone using it should be able to quickly create and update firmware thanks to a common core and a modern development process. Additionaly, Microsoft says that Mu's code organization should make it technically and legally easier to integrate with closed-source binaries or code with restrictive licenses. The company further notes that although Mu was originally targeted at Windows PCs, it should scale nicely up to servers or down to embedded devices.

Microsoft's Device Team says it uses Project Mu across several of its products, including the Surface lineup and Hyper-V. Mu's features include an on-screen keyboard, a lack of legacy code (that the team says reduces potential security issues), fast booting, and code tests and tools. The Surface Pro 4 I own is the fastest-booting Windows machine I've ever seen, so Microsoft may be onto something with regards to speed alone.

The project page offers a gloved-hand slap to manufacturers by noting that "for too long the industry has built products using a 'forking' model combined with copy/paste/rename" and remarking that such a poor process makes updates nearly impossible. The gerbil population at large has witnessed many a mobo firmware snafu over the years, and the ghost of Spectre past still haunts many an unpatched machine to this day, so that point is right on the money.

The curious and the daring developers can check out Project Mu's project page. Those eager to get thir hands dirty can check out the documentation or dive right into the code.

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