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Microsoft: Windows 8 boots too fast for F8

  • Windows 8 boot screen
  • Windows 8 boot advanced screen
  • Windows 8 menu screen

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 23 May 2012 at 09:15

Windows 8 boots so quickly it's impossible to access the boot menu, Microsoft has said - meaning it's had to redesign how users access setup and safe mode.

In SSD-based PCs running Windows 8, the window to hit "F8" or other keys to go into boot modes is smaller than 200 milliseconds, Microsoft said.

"When you turn on a Windows 8 PC, there’s no longer long enough to detect keystrokes like F2 or F8, much less time to read a message such as 'Press F2 for Setup'," said Chris Clark, programme manager for the user experience team, in a post on the Windows 8 blog. "For the first time in decades, you will no longer be able to interrupt boot and tell your PC to do anything different than what it was already expecting to do."

Microsoft won't be slowing down boot to allow fingers to get keystrokes in, however. Instead, it has created a boot options menu, offering access to troubleshooting tools, ways to access UEFI settings, and a place to boot from alternative devices, such as USB, or to alternative OSes.

Windows 8 boot advanced screen

The menu will be brought up when the PC is struggling to boot successfully into Windows, but users will also be able to trigger it, either by going to the Advanced startup section in PC settings, by holding down the Shift key while clicking Restart, or by working from the Command Prompt.

New PCs only

The system only works for PCs running the BIOS replacement Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Older, non-UEFI devices, will have fewer options to choose from and still be able to press a key to enter the menu while booting.

"Legacy hardware that was made before Windows 8 will not have these new UEFI-provided menu features (booting to firmware settings and booting directly to a device)," Clark said. "The firmware on these devices will continue to support this functionality from the POST screen as it did in the past (using messages such as 'Press F2 for setup')."

"There is still time for keystrokes like this to work in POST on these legacy devices, since they won't have the improvements that enable a Windows 8 PC to POST in less than two seconds," he said.

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User comments

UEFI

Most of the new UEFI boards i've used actually take ages to 'POST'

I tried a new ASUS board the other day and it took around 10 seconds or so simply to start loading the OS.

By JStairmand on 23 May 2012

Me Too

Yes we're seeing some of those new UEFI Asus boards in Oz and they do sit there on the splash screen for plenty of time.

By Roger_Andre on 23 May 2012

Maybe Nichole could ask Mr Clark what boards(s) he is using and share that with us. Speed was supposed to be one of the raison d'etres of UEFI. If it isn't delivering what are they up to? And maybe MS might want to lean on some of the board makers. After all, it's detracting from "the Windows experience" and hurting MS.

John

By JohnHo1 on 23 May 2012

Wierd

My ASROCK (an ASUS subsidiary, I believe) EFI board boots quickly, but two ASUS '77 boards I've used have been very slothful (and the 'BIOS' is wubbish!)

By wittgenfrog on 23 May 2012

Tweaking

It's all about tweaking. I have a ASUS UEFI mobo, and it took 10-15 seconds just to start loading Windows. But after entering the BIOS and turning a few things off (something was set to a default of 5 seconds) its now about 1 second till Windows starts to load.

By andy_fogg on 23 May 2012

Seems a bit long winded

Why not just allow the user to hold down f2/f8 whilst holding down the power button and make sure the uefi can detect it. Don't troll me, but this simple solution is what apple does!

By willdamien on 23 May 2012

@willdamien

Sounds like a good idea, but surely similar implementations will be sued by Apple who aparrently invented everything.....?

By wittgenfrog on 23 May 2012

You DID read the article?
How is holding down the Shift key any more long-winded than (the perfect) Apple?

By Ex_Sailor on 23 May 2012

You DID read the article?
How is holding down the Shift key any more long-winded than (the perfect) Apple?

By Ex_Sailor on 23 May 2012

You DID read the article?
How is holding down the Shift key any more long-winded than (the perfect) Apple?

By Ex_Sailor on 23 May 2012

agree with willdamien

don't see what the fuss is about, just replace it with a option of holding down a particular key whils the OS boots to go into relevant boot menu.

yes like apple, but the most logical solution than setting the machine to reboot into the boot meny / safe mode etc.

By saqib_ on 23 May 2012

@Ex-Sailor

you clearly didn't. hold shift is with restart in windows 8. not startup from cold as @willdamien describes apples do. no one said apple was perfect, but despite @willdamien's protestation you are indeed a troll. Go back to being a sailor.

By gavmeister on 23 May 2012

@andy_fogg

Thanks for the tip. My Asus has been winding me up, as I was expecting UEFI to be fast.

By tirons1 on 23 May 2012

Not ideal!

So basically, on EFI systems it won't be possible to get to this menu without first booting into Windows then rebooting whilst holding "Shift"? Won't MS even consider allowing people to change the boot options from within Windows to allow for a pause for a key? Otherwise, dual-booting could be a considerable pain!

By Trippynet on 24 May 2012

@andy_fogg

Any chance of telling us what settings you changed i.e the 5 second delay one for instance.

By curiousclive on 24 May 2012

The Great Boot Time Swindle

My Vista machine booted to user login "quickly" only because it carried on with system startup long after reaching the desktop.

My Win 7 machine is even worse, still churning away minutes after login.

Faster Windows boot times are a lie, as system management bloat is merely left to hog resources long after reaching the desktop instead.

By tim_wall on 24 May 2012

The Great Boot Time Swindle

My Vista machine booted to user login "quickly" only because it carried on with system startup long after reaching the desktop.

My Win 7 machine is even worse, still churning away minutes after login.

Faster Windows boot times are a lie, as system management bloat is merely left to hog resources long after reaching the desktop instead.

By tim_wall on 24 May 2012

The Great Boot Time Swindle

My Vista machine booted to user login "quickly" only because it carried on with system startup long after reaching the desktop.

My Win 7 machine is even worse, still churning away minutes after login.

Faster Windows boot times are a lie, as system management bloat is merely left to hog resources long after reaching the desktop instead.

By tim_wall on 24 May 2012

The Great Boot Time Swindle

My Vista machine booted to user login "quickly" only because it carried on with system startup long after reaching the desktop.

My Win 7 machine is even worse, still churning away minutes after login.

Faster Windows boot times are a lie, as system management bloat is merely left to hog resources long after reaching the desktop instead.

By tim_wall on 24 May 2012

Booting from USB?

I'm nervous about the phrase "and a place to boot from alternative devices, such as USB". I'm often at meetings where people seem to share USB sticks like there's no security issues, and if bootable USBs become commonplace, fear the worst...

The fastest booting machine I know is a netbook running XP home. Beats all my others!

By ianbyrne on 24 May 2012

Booting from USB?

I'm nervous about the phrase "and a place to boot from alternative devices, such as USB". I'm often at meetings where people seem to share USB sticks like there's no security issues, and if bootable USBs become commonplace, fear the worst...

The fastest booting machine I know is a netbook running XP home. Beats all my others!

By ianbyrne on 24 May 2012

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