Windows 8 news continues to trickle from the Building Windows 8 blog at a steady clip: today, Gabe Aul detailed changes to the Windows 8 boot process that promise to drastically reduce startup times.

The team wanted to come up with a startup method that would deliver the benefits of a cold boot (a "fresh session" at startup, no power usage when off) while reducing the amount of time that it takes to load the operating system from disk to RAM. 

To accomplish this, Microsoft has combined aspects of a traditional Windows shutdown with system hibernation, which saves the contents of your RAM to disk and then restores it to RAM at next boot. While a Windows shutdown currently closes all user programs (the "user session") and then all system services and processes (the "kernel session") completely before powering off, Windows 8 closes the user session and saves the rest of your RAM's content to disk. The kernel session can then be restored to RAM quickly at next boot - this is more speedy than traditional hibernation both because there's less data to restore to RAM from the disk (just the kernel session, as opposed to the kernel session and the user session), and because restoring hibernation files is a fully multithreaded process in Windows 8. If the feature works as well as it does in the Microsoft demo video, it is indeed quite impressive.

Microsoft notes that drivers are still initialized during this startup process, which means that driver and system updates should no longer require a "full" reboot of the system (something Microsoft has been promising since the Longhorn days). However, for those of you more comfortable with a traditional "full" shutdown, there are command line options to toggle the new feature on and off ("powercfg /hibernate off" which has the unfortunate side-effect of completely disabling hibernation), and also to initiate one-time full shutdowns ("shutdown /s /full").

According to Microsoft, these improvements should benefit users with SSDs and HDDs alike, and will be especially noticeable when paired with systems supporting UEFI, the BIOS replacement that is slowly being adopted by most major PC manufacturers and motherboard makers. For full details, as always, you can check out the very detailed post on the Building Windows 8 blog.

Source: Building Windows 8 Blog

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  • dagamer34 - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    When I look at these posts, one thing comes to mind: "Leave no stone unturned"

    Maybe they worked on this kind of stuff before, but a lot of the changes in Windows 8 will be visible to even the most novice computer user (and that's a good thing if they're improvements, which most of them are).
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    The way they're doling the information out is also good, I think - showing the people who care about such things the way that the underpinnings of the OS are improving, while making sure that they don't get bogged down by details when discussing the Big Changes (the Metro UI, ARM support, etc.) at BUILD next week.
  • PubFiction - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    I do not know if I agree so much with that. The vast majority of users do not follow tech sites and the main stream media never reports on ANY thing microsoft related. Apple on the other hand hides things long enough that people cannot copy them. M$ often tells people about a feature SO long in advance that by the time they release it everyone has copied. I can think of many features in IE that were added to fire fox or plugins before microsoft released a new IE version.
  • stm1185 - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    I wonder if that is only to get to the METRO ui though. I wish they showed if explorer is just as fast to boot to.
  • davepermen - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    it's one and the same. this is the new "startmenu" of your explorer (accessible trough the start key, too). there are no two modes, technically. switching was always instant in ANY presentation, absolutely fluid.

    and yes, starting from hibernation is just as fast on win7, except for the hibernation file loading, which is much slower as it doesn't hibernate just the core os, but everything in ram.

    and, nobody will care about explorer much afterwards anyways :)
  • B3an - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    You're wrong... it's not a new "start menu". MS have made this clear. Metro is an interface just for touch devices. Even MS have said that Metro will be inefficient for non-touch computers.

    For laptops and desktops people will still use the explorer/desktop interface. Metro would be vastly inferior for these devices.
  • Spivonious - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    That's completely wrong. Since D9, MS has said that the "Start Screen" is the new main interface for Windows, regardless of whether or not the device supports touch. The traditional desktop isn't even loaded until it's needed (i.e. the user starts a "classic" app).
  • steven75 - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    He's still correct (and daveperman is wrong) that the traditional desktop is a fully distinct mode, as clearly stated by Microsoft.
  • B3an - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    In the comments the guy mentions that boot times are the same for either Metro or the Windows Explorer/desktop
  • OS - Friday, September 9, 2011 - link

    a consequence of using partial hibernation is it will waste space on the disk, which is of bigger concern to SSD users with limited space.

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