Windows 8 Lets You Change Boot Drives Outside The BIOS Menu

Windows 8 Lets You Change Boot Drives Outside The BIOS Menu

We know Windows 8 is promising faster boot times and our testing largely bears that out, but that poses a potential minor challenge: you won’t have much time to get to the BIOS menu if you (say) want to alter the boot order to use a USB drive. Fortunately, Windows 8 also lets you access these options from within the OS itself.

The Building Windows 8 blog notes that devices with UEFI firmware will also be able to change those options from within Windows. It’s a small shift but a sensible one, especially given how arcane working through BIOS menus feels these days.

Reengineering the Windows 8 boot experience [Building Windows 8]


  • Why would the operating system have any bearing on the time to access the BIOS menu? My laptop dual-boots Windows 7 and Ubuntu Natty, I see the post screen with options to access BIOS or the boot device menu before the bootloader menu appears. Surely this wouldn’t change under Windows 8…

  • After reading the article, which thankfully makes no mention of not having enough time to access bios. It seems the main driving force is touch and user friendly support for changing common settings.

  • Bah! Mac OS X has provided the ability to restart from a specific boot device for bloody ages.

    System Preferences > Startup Disk

    Nice work Microsoft, better late than never I guess.

    • As this is a capability of UEFI rather than just the OS, we can put that in the category of ‘things microsoft has limited control over’. Apple controls their hardware so they’ve been using EFI since they migrated to Intel. Microsoft has to deal with dozens of manufacturers, most of who didn’t use it for years.

      They could have added support for it in win7, but almost nobody would have been able to use it.

      • you can do it Win7. The Win7 loader can handle “one-off” changes. I use a little app called iReboot that sits in the system tray. I select what system (or even VHD) that I want the system to boot from next and it does it. It does not mess with the defaults – so it has a high wife-acceptance-factor. If the machine reboots it boots back into the stock standard Win7.

  • Little known fact: it has been possible to bootstrap other bootloaders using the NT bootloader as far back as at least 4.0.

    But not in quite the same user friendly way.

  • do I access this from within windows 8? It seems that the boot order can only be changed when you boot into the new boot loader which runs before you boot into Windows 8.

  • Macs have not been able to boot from USB forever they only started to boot from USB when they switched to Intel processors…but i have a prob. how can i edit my windows 8 boot menu, it doesn’t come up when my pc starts i have win 7 in a 410gb part. and windows 8 in a 80gb part….the only way for me to switch between 7 and 8 is to go into Disk Management and click on the part. and “Mark Part. as Active” and restart… any suggestions on this??

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