Microsoft Worried Windows 8 Will Boot Too Quickly

Microsoft Worried Windows 8 Will Boot Too Quickly

Yes, that headline says exactly what you think. We know faster boot times are one of the key goals for Windows 8 (and early testing suggests that goal is being met). So much so that, as Microsoft puts it: “Windows 8 has a problem – it really can boot up too quickly.”

We’ve already discussed one potential problem with a super-fast boot time on Windows 8: it can be hard to access BIOS settings using function keys if there’s no pause before Windows starts loading. Windows 8 is handling that issue by letting you change the boot drive inside Windows itself. Given that one of the most common BIOS alterations is changing the boot drive, that’s a useful start.

The latest post by Microsoft engineers on the Building Windows 8 blog highlights that issue and then discusses some other unexpected consequences of super-speedy booting, such as not being able to use the F8 key to access Safe Mode. To solve this problem, Windows 8 will include a ‘boot options menu’ that can be easily accessed once Windows has already loaded. If there’s a driver problem that actually prevents Windows 8 from loading in the first place, the boot options menu will also automatically be loaded.

The menu relies on newer UEFI hardware, so if you’re running on an older machine, you’ll still need to use traditional keystrokes to get to Safe Mode or change BIOS settings. However, those machines won’t see super-speedy booting in any case, so it’s less likely to be a drama.

If you want to access it the new menu from your machine once Windows has loaded, it’s under the PC settings –> General –> Advanced startup. You can also trigger the menu’s appearance by holding down the Shift click while selecting Restart.

Designing for PCs that boot faster than ever before [Building Windows 8]


    • That still assumes the keyboard drivers finish being loaded and get updated before POST finishes, it also presumes all keyboards will send an key interrupt event for all keys held down once the drivers are loaded which would require lots of people to upgrade their keyboards.

      Put simply, the computer can’t ask the keyboard whether or not a button is down, the keyboard tells the computer when it changes. If that state change happens before the computer is ready to start tracking keyboard changes, the boot menus won’t be able to know about it.

  • Boot times is the least of my worries when it comes to Win8. My users is going to get very confused with new metro interface. Not everyone is on the ball with new innovations in UI. Will take time and I’ll lose more hair…

    • Too right, dude. I’m worried that I myself am going to have trouble with it, and I’ve made the switch from Windows XP to MacOS to Ubuntu to Windows 7 with no dramas. I love the Metro UI on my Android (yes you read that right, custom menus.) but I’m not sure how I’ll go with it on a desktop.

  • Why bother catering to the uneducated users out there who don’t know what a BIOS is, and who would have no idea or inclination to use it. Any power user could easily push DEL in the fraction of a second that you get when your booting up.

    I don’t expect Subaru to make my car more accessible for an idiot like me, for vehicle repairs that I have no idea on how to do.

    • I hope you’re joking, making things easier for everyone is important, and this makes things easier for everyone even those of us who believe ourselves capable of pressing the F8 key in the fifth of a second chunk of time we’d need to with a UEFI enabled Win8 machine.

      But seriously, holding shift while you press restart to bring up the menu will make it much easier to access those menus while drunk.

    • I’m with you Chugs. Anybody that cannot figure out how to access the bios has no business poking around in there anyway, so why cater for them? It’s pointless. Catering for the lowest common denominator just drags everything down.

  • Great that UEFI allows this kind of thing – whenever I’m troubleshooting someone else’s PC I often miss the BIOS button the first time anyway as Dell, Compaq/HP, ASUS, Acer all seem to assign Del, F2, F10 or some other F-key to get into BIOS and I just have to guess.

    With this if there’s something seriously wrong with the boot drive it’ll throw me into UEFI and I can instruct the PC to boot from my rescue disk, reboot and get to work.

  • ah, marketing 101. Microsoft says “Windows 8 has a problem – it really can boot up too quickly” and all the punters get excited. You’ll have to forgive my skepticism…

  • While POST was a necessary evil of BIOS design in the 80s/90s in today’s world it’s archaic. Being able to diagnose and fix post boot – or have the BIOS do the work for you is a great answer. UEFI definitely seems to be the future but I think even it has a long way to go before it matches the potential for “instant on” (from cold boot) that hardware is moving towards.

  • The solution is simple, a 3 second menu to let you press F2 for a menu or something. What’s 3 seconds on an already speedy boot time?

    The problem with integrating everything into Windows, is that if your drive gets buggered, how are you going to boot a rescue disk?

  • Here’s my clever solution – start making UEFI-based computers such that when the device is powered down, if you hold down the power button for 4 seconds (as opposed to just tapping it) to turn it on, it starts of in Configuration Mode. Perhaps that jumps the user straight into UEFI setup, and then an option in that setup is “Boot into Configuration Mode” which somehow passes a command to whatever operating system boots up to go to the F8 screen (or equivalent grub screen, or whatever boot loader you use) without a timeout.

  • Speed won’t be an issue after a few weeks of use. We’ll have Adobe, ATI, nVidia., iTunes, Java , chrome updaters, antivirus and other startup apps quietly installing themselves in the background, then we’re back to slow boot times again.
    {Yes I know this will be at the end of the boot process not the start where we’d want to use the keyboard to access the BIOS}

Log in to comment on this story!