In the latest post on the Building Windows 8 Blog Microsoft have talked about the fast boot process in Windows 8 and with the use of UEFI firmware you don’t have to desperately press F8 to try and get in to the boot loader. It looks like things like booting from a USB stick are going to be much easier and finally moving us from the 1980’s style boot screens.
As with all the other posts on the Windows 8 Blog it’s very long and detailed but the summary of it is that booting is going to look better and work faster. Read the post for all the details.
The core vision behind the boot options menu is to create a single place for every option that affects the startup behavior of the Windows 8 PC. Portions of this menu were discussed in detail in our previous blog post titled Reengineering the Windows boot experience. That post has the complete details and describes the fundamental changes made within the boot menus to enable touch interaction, Windows 8 visuals, and a cohesive user experience across the many surfaces that make up boot. Here is a screenshot of the boot options menu on one of my UEFI-based PCs:
Booting to an alternate device (such as a USB drive or network) is one of the most common scenarios that previously required interrupting boot with a keystroke. With Windows 8 UEFI-based firmware, we can now use software to trigger this. On these devices, you’ll now see the “Use a device” button in the boot options menu, which provides this functionality directly. As you can see in the above image, this functionality sits side-by-side with the other boot options. Windows no longer requires a keystroke interruption to boot from an alternate device, (assuming, for the moment, that you can reach the boot options menu itself without requiring a keystroke in boot. More on this in a minute.)
Into this same menu, we’ve added new functionality that allows you to reboot directly into the UEFI firmware’s BIOS setup (on Windows 8 UEFI hardware that supports this). On previous-era hardware, instructions for entering BIOS setup appeared at POST in messages like “Press F2 for setup.” (These messages have been around on PCs longer than perhaps any other type of UI.) They will still occur on systems that were made prior to Windows 8, where they will continue to work (primarily because these devices take several seconds to POST.) However, a Windows 8 UEFI-based PC won’t stay in POST long enough for keystrokes like this to be used, so the new UEFI-based functionality allows this option to live on in the boot options menu. After looking at the other items in this menu, we decided to place the button that reboots the PC into the UEFI firmware’s BIOS setup under the “Troubleshooting” node, within the “Advanced options” group: