Every time Slashdot has a story of EFI, we get a thousand uninformed posts about what it is, isn't, what it should do and why it sucks. As someone who has worked on EFI for years, let me clear them up for you:
1) EFI was designed by Intel as a replacement for BIOS. UEFI (edk2) is the second generation EFI, and is open source (see: http://tianocore.sourceforge.net). Intel delivers all of their boot support code as EFI drivers these days.
2) EFI is NOT a graphical interface. Some Chinese motherboard makers created terrible graphical configuration applications for it. Apple created a pretty nice boot selector. It can just as easily "post" and give you a console-mode menu like you're used to.
3) EFI is very common. All Apple computers use it. Most PC (Windows / Linux) laptops use it (your laptop probably does if it was made in the last 4 years). EFI drops into BIOS emulation mode after boot because Windows doesn't support it.
4) EFI machines generally allocate a small EFI partition on the hard drive, particularly if they use GPT. All Intel-based machines boot from flash memory and would successfully boot without this partition. This partition is for additional EFI firmware volumes or drivers that can be dynamically loaded.
5) EFI is much better than BIOS. It runs in full 32/64 bit mode. It can dynamically load drivers built into the ROM of your hardware (like a video card) and therefore doesn't have to rely on ancient backward-compatibility modes. It can run "apps", like a safe firmware updater so you don't have to boot your PC with a DOS boot disk to update the firmware. It can communicate a lot of configuration information to the OS and even provide hooks for some low level hardware-specific drivers. It can do things like boot from a network-shared CD-ROM drive or from a disk image stored on a USB stick (without resorting to making bootable partitions and jumping through a bunch of hoops like your average Linux USB stick). EFI can read FAT, NTFS, EXT2, HFS+ filesystems and boot the kernel directly from there (and the initrd image) without involving grub or other second stage boot loader. It can boot your GPT-tagged disks in your chosen order no matter what order you changed them around (take your boot drive, move it to a USB enclosure, boot from it).
Booting Intel machines is really fucking complicated, and EFI makes it much simpler.