Microsoft has expanded its relationship with BIOS maker
Phoenix Technologies in a deal designed to more closely integrate the basic
building blocks of the PC with the Windows operating system. The relationship,
announced this week, is designed to make PCs simpler and more reliable. The move
is likely to put consumer rights advocates on their guard, however, since both
Microsoft and Phoenix are involved in plans to integrate digital rights
management (DRM) technology at the operating system and hardware level.

Phoenix’s Core System Software (CSS) is a next-generation BIOS with a more
sophisticated integration of operating system and hardware, for example making
it easier for system administrators to remotely monitor the hardware
configurations of their systems. The BIOS would also allow better control of
unauthorized devices connected to a system. Both Microsoft and Phoenix are
currently arguing for closer integration of Windows with PC hardware, and DRM
integrated throughout. Microsoft is planning to tie Windows DRM features to the
hardware platform via its controversial Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB)
project, formerly known as Palladium.