ITWorld has published an interesting ARTICLE about Windows 8 OEM specs that sounds quite worrying for us Linuxers. It's a little bit complex and involves legal issues, so I very much recommend reading it, but it comes down to this: Windows 8 certified computers will make it very hard for Linux users to install their favorite OS, and dual booting sounds impossible at this stage with the information we have.
WHAT IS THE RISK?
Tough to say at this stage, but it certainly sounds like an actual threat. In real terms, though, if we look at how slowly Windows 7 is growing when compared to Windows XP in terms of market share, it would take a long, long time before we run out of hardware options. Many large corporations are still on XP, ready to squeeze it to the last drop before they have to put big money on the table to transition to Windows 7. When they do, though, it is highly unlikely they will be willing to quickly invest into moving to Windows 8, specially considering the radical changes brought to the picture by its new Metro interface. Long story short, I believe corporations won't see any reason to move to Windows 8 in the next few years, which will force hardware manufacturers to continue to support more conventional (and incidentally Linux friendly) computers.
Another interesting fact is that Linux is second to none when it comes to mobile devices. Android is groing faster than its competition, clearly leading as the OS most manufactures build mobile devices for. Considering the recent changes in GNOME and KDE (Plasma active), as well as Ubuntu's Unity, it wouldn't be crazy to think the preferred hardware target for Linux users in a few years could be Android compatible tablets. Who knows when things move and change so fast!?
Last but not least, Linux users still have an interesting option available: If Linux does one thing very well is getting the most out of old hardware. Therefore, if it comes to that, Linux users should still be able to use their favorite distro on their current hardware and stick to it for years before they need to think of an alternative.
ONLY TIME WILL TELL...
Windows 8 is still very much in the works and things around it may still change, so we will have to wait and see how things eventually unfold. The great thing is that it doesn't seem like we will run out of options any time soon, even if Microsoft wants the Penguin extinguished.
NOTE: Thanks to Andrew at WebUpd8 for his article on this topic!