Windows 8 boots so fast, users will likely not have time to trigger the boot menu before the PC boots, Microsoft claims.
In a blog post this week, Chris Clark, a program manager on the Windows User Experience team, again claimed that Windows 8 will boot in less than 7 seconds on a PC equipped with a solid-state drive.
In older PCs, users have had plenty of time to hit the F2 or the F8 key and trigger a boot menu before the machine POSTs, and could use that menu to run diagnostic tools and boot from alternate devices. With Windows 8, that "window" to push the F8 key is less than 200 ms, Clark wrote, fast enough that even a gamer might be hard pressed to hit the correct keystroke in time.
Instead, Microsoft had to come up with some alternative methods of getting to the boot menu.
In Windows 8, users will automatically be taken to the boot menu in the case where Windows can't boot - even in situations where Windows thinks it can, such as in the case of a faulty display driver. In that case, the boot options menu is presented.
Users can also manually access the boot options. The primary method of doing so, Clark explained, is from the Advanced startup on the General tab of PC settings. Users can get to PC settings from the Settings charm, or by searching from the Start screen using specific search terms, such as boot, startup, safe mode, firmware, BIOS, or several others, he wrote.
Probably the most common way of reaching the boot options menu, however, will be clicking and holding the SHIFT key while choosing the restart option, in much the same say that sleep and hibernate options can be selected under older Windows PCs.
"The reason that we added this Shift Restart option to the shutdown menu was because the boot options need to be available even when no one has signed in to the PC," Clark wrote. "In the old hardware model that allowed keystrokes in boot, anyone with physical access to the PC could press a key to interrupt boot and use the available boot options. To preserve those scenarios, we needed a way for someone who hasn't signed in (but is still physically using the PC) to use the boot options menu.
Microsoft also added a command-line option: "Shutdown.exe /r /o", where the "/o" flag will load the options menu.