Okay so, verbatim:
"Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) is the name for a system developed by Intel that is designed to replace the aging BIOS system used by personal computers. It is responsible for the power-on self-test (POST) process, bootstrapping the operating system, and providing an interface between the operating system and the physical hardware."
"EFI allows vendors to create operating system-independent device drivers. In that sense, it is similar to Open Firmware, the hardware-independent firmware used in PowerPC-based Apple Macintosh computers and Sun Microsystems SPARC computers, amongst others. EFI also allows the operating system to run in a sandbox mode, where networking and memory management issues are delegated to the firmware instead of the OS. Attempts by the OS to access the hardware are converted to calls to the EFI drivers. The EFI is also used to select and load the operating system, removing the need for a boot loader.
The EFI standard also requires a GUID Partition Table hard disk drives."
So, what this tells me is that we're using a different, similar system, that was created by intel, and is now managed by an independent group. Its a replacement for BIOS, and given the nature of non system specific hardware drivers, may actually make it easier for manufacturers, software developers, and cross platform integration.
Now, for those who are wondering where I got all this, some of it is on intel's website, and there's a TON of information on Wikipedia. Based on what I've read, in order to get up to speed for work, I'm inclined to think we've not taken a step backward. It feels like at the very least, a lateral step that will lead to a forward step. (much like chess).
As far as supply, I expect it to be high for the macbooks. Our shop got in the rare "available for general sale" unit (we tend to order most everything custom configured for the customer) and having had the opportunity to check it out, along with the take apart guide, I was very pleased. Granted, they havent existed long enough for people to really start breaking them, so my thoughts on durability will have to wait 6-18 months. But, when that time comes, we'll see. Personally, I think they're gonna hold up.