BIOS maker to unveil "bunker environment" for PCs

BIOS maker to unveil "bunker environment" for PCs

Phoenix Technologies, the maker of BIOS (basic input/output system) software for most of the world's PCs, plans to unveil next month a software environment for PCs and other devices that creates a "bunker" in which critical utilities can be stored.

The protected space could hold utilities for self-healing, diagnostics, virus protection, emergency Internet access and remote desktop rebuilds that could be accessed quickly even after a system crash, Phoenix said. Software in this space, located outside the operating system, could help protect systems against viruses and worms.

Phoenix, along with partners including Intel, Microsoft, Toshiba, and Dell Computer, would unveil the standards-based environment on February 18, Phoenix representative, David Tractenberg, said.

The "bunker" will incorporate elements of Phoenix's current FirstBIOS and FirstWare Environment products. FirstBIOS is software that is used to get a PC started and control devices such as the hard disk and display. FirstWare Environment is a "service area" on a special, protected part of the hard drive that can store software for tasks such as system diagnostics, emergency Internet access and system recovery.

The new environment would store critical utilities in another, more secure place in the system that has never been used for this purpose, Tractenberg said. Phoenix would provide more details about that location when the technology was announced.

He said the technology first would be used primarily in PCs but could be embedded into many other kinds of devices such as PDAs (personal digital assistants).

Principal analyst at research company Insight 64, Nathan Brookwood, said having an operating system and other recovery resources available in a place that was safe from system crashes could make support much easier. It means users didn't have to carry operating system CD-ROMs with them when they travel, or send their PCs back to an IS staff or a vendor for system recovery, which could be time-consuming and expensive.

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