Windows 8 Boots Too Fast for its Own Good

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Windows 8 has caught a lot of flak for its "interesting" Metro-style user-interface. But one thing the operating system apparently has going for it is a lighting fast boot time. In fact, according to a post on Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog, the OS is too fast for its own good.

In the post, Chris Clark, a member of Microsoft's User Experience Team, says that when installed on an SSD, Windows 8 takes just seven seconds to run through its start up sequence. That's a problem if you want to do something like say, change the boot order of your machine or boot into Safe Mode.

[How to Install Windows 8 Consumer Preview]

According to Clark, the window of opportunity for Windows 8 to detect a request for a change to the OS's boot order is just 200 miliseconds. That's just 200 miliseconds to slap the F8 key if you want to start your system in Safe Mode or boot from another source. 

As Clark points out in the post, 200 miliseconds is way too fast for the average user. During internal testing, Clark said developers would have to repeatedly tap the F8 key in an effort to get to the OS's boot menu, only to have to restart and try again when they missed the window.

To deal with the issue, Microsoft has developed a three-tier solution that includes a new boot options menu accessible from within the operating system after start up is complete, a fail safe that automatically brings you to the boot menu if Windows doesn't start properly and a way to get to the fail safe boot menu even if nothing is wrong with your computer.

Despite the issues the start speed caused for Windows 8 developers, it's nice to see that the issue was a result of the start processing being too good for once.

via: Building Windows 8 blog

Author Bio
Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley, LAPTOP Senior Writer
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining Laptopmag.com. He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Daniel P. Howley, LAPTOP Senior Writer on
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24 comments
  • Byron Harvey Says:

    There are only 3 ways to boot Win 8 into recovery mode. Firstly, if Windows 8 detects a serious error, it will interrupt the boot process automatically and display advanced boot options.(and this is only if you are extremely lucky) This is not unlike what Windows does already. Secondly, the menu can be explicitly called upon (even automatically) via your computer's UEFI firmware. (if your computer has it - most don't) The third and final option is invoking the menu through Windows itself. One such method is done by booting into Windows 8 and holding shift while clicking restart. (this one actually works but try recommending this method to someone who can't get into Windows in the first place) Alternatively, you can navigate the Start Menu options for it. In other words the days of tapping F8 to recover your PC are over.

  • DeaneC Says:

    The word is "millisecond".

  • Eli Says:

    Install Linux, now M$ can't !&#$ you up with WinDoze and you even get a normal bootloader that gives you choices.

    I don't understand the problem to begin with though, since as mentioned above, WinDoze can't do anything until the BIOS asks the hard drive for the bootloader. You can always then resort the boot order.

  • Bob Says:

    Just what we need; Microsoft "Dumbing down" the PC interface so it acts like a phone or tablet. Power users everywhere are probably rolling in their sleep as we speak.

  • Bobben49 Says:

    I was working tech support back in the 90's and early 2000's Back then simply holding down the CTRL key during boot was all you had to do to get into Safe Mode, but alas, microsoft went to F* only and you had to strike it repeatedly to guarantee you might go to Safe Mode menu.Why microsoft thinks taking away a simple and useful feature was obviously some clueless managers decision based on something lame like too many people accidently held down Ctrl key during boot. They also used to have an option in the shutdown button to "restart in Safe
    Mode" which they also removed. BTW they also say never directly edit the Registry without backing it up. I've edited my family's computers registry over a 100 times without "bricking" a single OS.
    Microsoft should quit trying to make Windows that look like an I-Phone. The Apple fan boys are never going to buy a Windows PC so quit trying to make tour interface look like OS10.
    On last thing, the interface formally known as "Metro" requires a touch screen however, 99% of the monitors out there are not touch screen equipped and please offer touch screen overlays at cost to upgrade our monitores. Or make a preference setting to select "Metro" or desktop as primary boot screen.

    It is illogical to introduce a Windows interface that 99% of the computers are incompatible with. And then make it your only option for initial boot screen .
    BOB BENSON

  • Bubbasez Says:

    It's a "NO BRAINER" that Microsoft historically finds a way to offer a "new, and improved" OS that ultimately fails after years of selling an outstanding offering such as Windows XP, and Windows 7. Reinventing the wheel every few years seemes unproductive. And aside from the cost of purchasing a new OS, the collateral costs just keep adding up. Being forced into purchasing new hardware is only part, and parcel of the issues. Upgrading existing programs can break the bank.

    'If it ain't broke...don't fix it!" Too much tinkering with success brings faliure.

  • abe Leencun Says:

    apple heads please refrain from commenting,,,and go look at your apple distored maps that are the latest and greatest....

  • Herp Derpingtom Says:

    All this chest-thumping "TOLDYASO" nonsense is clearly coming from a bunch of silly little Apple fanbois. Win8 is great, I've used it and it's a worthwhile step up from Win7, which is a fantastic OS in and of itself.

  • Derp Herpington Says:

    i feel like this is a resolvable problem. possibly adding a BIOS option once logged in or in the start up. not like there is THAT much to do in the BIOS. just says stats mostly. settings are usually controllable through windows.

  • Zulux Says:

    If you boot it and travel at the near speed of light, then time will slow down then you can choose if you wanna be in Safe Mode. One problem though if you come back make sure you run Windows Update.

  • DavidZeb Says:

    BooHoo. If it gets past the F8 point, Ctrl-Alt-Del and try again. It's not like you have to do that very often. This already happens to me pretty often with Windows 7 and a SSD and it's not a big deal.

  • Jim Says:

    The simple solution is simply to put in a 2 or 3 second pause in the process. I don't think most users will complain about a 7-second boot being extended to 10 seconds.

  • Repaired Says:

    Boot it and edit registry, up the wait times.

  • Repaired Says:

    What exactly is " lighting fast" ? I guess they proof read this on Windows 8.

  • Mike Says:

    It boots in less than 10 seconds so I assume it will crash just as quickly?

  • Dina Says:

    Believe I'll stick with my Mac. I'd forgotten how fussy PCs were.

  • Galane Says:

    The big blocks remind me of Windows 1.0. The phone version with that black bar up the right side resembles Windows 1.0 rotated 90 degrees counter clockwise.

  • Ian Says:

    I can confirm when installed on a dual boot system at least there is a actually a clickable option to go to Safe Mode etc. I have had Win8 since the day it came out to the public and love/hate it. I have a new ASUS mobo (P8-Z68V) with an i7 chip and there is no driver for it, so running without a chipset driver and 'issues' expected, but not what I have seen. Performance of both Outlook and IE is pathetic, stalls frequently and Outlook at least practically unusable and at best an exercise in frustration. Don't like the lack of shutdown controls anywhere either. Honestly have to say NOT a big fan, it's just Windows for phones pushed/forced on desktop users.

  • Jonathan Smith Says:

    The short time one has to press F8 HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BOOT ORDER. That fact that both the author and the few replies given thus far have failed to note that is shocking. The BIOS controls the devices that are enabled and disabled for use as a boot medium, it also controls the BOOT ORDER. In other words, the BIOS configuration is what governs which medium(ia) are checked for a boot loader. For instance, on a certain machine, you may have a few seconds to decide to press F2, F12, Escape, etc. to select another boot medium. THIS IS BEFORE WINDOWS HAS ANY CONTROL! Boot order might look something like this:

    Boot from HDD0
    Boot from HDD1
    Boot from Optical Disc Drive
    Boot from USB Device
    Boot from MBA Network Card (PXE boot)
    Run Diagnostics (BIOS based)
    Enter Setup (for Mac people, that's the BIOS).

    Say that is the programmed boot order, and you want to change it for just one boot. F8 will do nothing, as it is part of Windows and Windows hasn't loaded yet! The OS currently running is the BIOS. It will eventually pass off control to a formal OS located on a HDD or SSD or the like. Instead you have the option with plenty of time, to actuate the BIOS attention call, and select Boot from Optical Disc Drive, this changes the BOOT ORDER for this specific instance and commands the BIOS to check the ODD for a boot loader before checking the other devices.

    Windows F8 function--TOO LATE, the boot loader has been started, from here YOU CAN select a list of operating systems and advanced options (the complaint that Microsoft needs an open boot loader, when was the last time you looked at the ability to modify the boot loader? It is open, and can be changed, but you need more than flimsy Mac skills to do it. Moreover, MS instructs you to install Windows first so that the additional OS's can configure their own respective boot loaders--Hardly the attitude of a closed-minded company, but I digress): For Windows v6.1 (Windows 7), in addition to selecting another OS to boot into, we have these options:

    >Repair your computer
    (Shows a list of system recovery tools you can use to repair startup problems, run diagnostics, or restore your system. This option is available only if the tools are installed on your computer's hard disk. If you have a Windows installation disc, the system recovery tools are located on the installation disc.)

    >Safe mode
    (Starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and services. For more information, see What is safe mode?)

    >Safe mode with networking
    (Starts Windows in safe mode and includes the network drivers and services needed to access the Internet or other computers on your network.)

    >Safe mode with command prompt
    (Starts Windows in safe mode with a command prompt window instead of the usual Windows interface. This option is intended for IT professionals and administrators.)

    >Enable boot logging

    (Creates a file, ntbtlog.txt, that lists all the drivers that are installed during startup and that might be useful for advanced troubleshooting.)

    >Enable low resolution video (640 × 480)
    (Starts Windows using your current video driver and using low resolution and refresh rate settings. You can use this mode to reset your display settings. For more information, see Change screen resolution and Correct monitor flicker (refresh rate).)

    >Last Known Good Configuration (advanced)
    (Starts Windows with the last registry and driver configuration that worked successfully. For more information, see Using Last Known Good Configuration.)

    >Directory services restore mode
    (Starts Windows domain controller running Active Directory so that the directory service can be restored. This option is intended for IT professionals and administrators.)

    >Debugging mode
    (Starts Windows in an advanced troubleshooting mode intended for IT professionals and system administrators.)

    >Disable automatic restart on system failure
    (Prevents Windows from automatically restarting if an error causes Windows to fail. Choose this option only if Windows is stuck in a loop where Windows fails, attempts to restart, and fails again repeatedly.)

    >Disable Driver Signature Enforcement
    (Allows drivers containing improper signatures to be installed.)

    >Start Windows normally
    (Starts Windows in its normal mode.)

    1/5 of a second is fast, but if your sober, you can do it. Once the BIOS has completed POST you have more than .200 seconds.

    What should everyone here learn? What the heck boot order means!

    It's one thing to complain about an actual problem, it's another to mislabel, whether out of spite or ignorance, an issue, thus perpetuating the ignorance.

    Sheesh.

  • Gill Bates Says:

    Microsoft has gone batty. They invest and crow about Windows Aero, force people to upgrade hardware to support it and now go - with flat colors and no Aero??

    Who came up with this catatonic development idea?

  • Nome Says:

    All my life all I have heard PC users complain about is how long it takes Windows to boot up, now it boots too fast? C'mon... WTF?

  • Eric Says:

    Andy R: Unlike Apple, Microsoft doesn't have control over the hardware their OS is installed on; Microsoft must provide a boot solution that works on the trillions of permutations of various keyboards, motherboards, BIOS programs, USB, PS/2, etc.

  • Jason Says:

    "User Another Operating System." "Continue with another installed version of Windows."
    *sigh*
    When in the hell is Microsoft going to just include an open bootloader or at least configure Windows' boot loader so it can see other Operating Systems of any kind and NOT JUST WINDOWS?

  • Andy R. Says:

    Why don't they just allow the user to hold the F8 key during power-on? In other words, why can't the F8 key be held down prior to power-on (or restart), so that when the bootloader polls the keyboard (during that 200ms gap) it finds that the F8 key is down, and correctly diverts to the boot menu?

    This is how Microsoft's competitors have done this since the 1980's. On a Mac, if I want to select a different boot device, I hold Option and THEN press the power button. Boom, solved. I'm no Apple apologist, but it doesn't take a genius to come up with this.

    It's 2012. A solution to this issue has been around (and shipping!) for 28 years. And yet a member of Microsoft's User Experience Team is still scratching his head and worrying about how to do this?

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