According to the latest Building Windows 8 blog post, the next iteration of Microsoft's Windows OS will have the fastest boot time ever. In fact, it's nearly too fast for its own good.
"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", explains Windows 8 User Experience program manager, Chris Clark. "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."
You can see an example of this in the video below, which depicts a Windows 8 laptop with a solid state drive fully booting in less than 7 seconds:
“We have SSD-based UEFI systems where the “F8 window” is always less than 200 milliseconds," explains Clark. "No matter how fast your fingers are, there is no way to reliably catch a 200 millisecond event.”
The Windows 8 development team have addressed this problem via the new Boot Options menu. This combines all boot options and commands under one catch-all window.
In the words of Chris Clark: "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." It will include everything from troubleshooting tools to methods for accessing the firmware’s BIOS setup and the choice of booting to alternate devices such as USB drives.
The team has created 'failover' behaviors which automatically bring up the Boot Options menu when problems arise during bootup. In addition, users will be able to easily reach the Boot Options menu at any time they like. According to Clark: "Instead of these menus and options being “interrupt-driven,” they are triggered in an intentional way that is much easier to accomplish successfully."
The Windows 8 'Boot Options' menu: simple and straightforward.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the Windows 8 Boot Options menu will carry across the same icon-based, visual approach of the Windows 8 desktop interface. Touch interaction will also be supported. This is sure to raise a few eyebrows with people used to black and white BIOS screens.
For more information on the new Windows 8 Boot Options menu, visit the Building Windows 8 Blog.