back to article Phoenix hijacks Windows boot with instant-on

If Phoenix Technologies gets its way, we may lose the precious time spent while Windows leisurely ambles from slumber at startup. Those countless minutes, perhaps, we didn't realize we counted on to: wash the dog, mow the lawn, check tire pressure, reject the idea that the most certain and primary reality is rational …


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  1. PunkTiger
    Thumb Up

    Everything Old is New Again

    What a novel idea! All you'd have to do is turn on your computer, and in a second or two a useable operating system comes up... much like the C-64, Colour Speccy and other "obsolete" computers of the 1980s.


  2. Anonymous Coward


    Tandy did sort of the same thing with MS-DOS 3.3 in their old 1000HX PC... had DOS on a ROM Chip... it did boot fast, and no need for swapping floppies when a DOS command was needed...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hint: Hibernate... It's not just for laptops...

    Standby is even faster, but doesn't work correctly on all desktops and requires the system stay plugged into mains.

  4. daniel Silver badge
    Gates Halo

    What was that IBM / Microsoft specced bios again...

    that booted to a BASIC interpreter if no OS was found?

    Ah, the good old days, along with twinax networks, 4800 baud modems and computers needing co-processors and strange 16 bit processors with an 8 bit data bus, and double sided 5.25 inch 320 kb diskette drives where "double sided" meant "remove disk, turn over, re-insert, Sanyo PC's with 160 kb of RAM, DOS without sub-directory support, or CP/M... I'm getting misty eyed :)

    Anyone else around who remembers the "directing the Turtle" program on AMSTRAD PCW's?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hibernate? Have you tried hibernate on a modern PC?

    Hibernate: while shutting down your PC, wait till summer comes round again while the nGB memory image is written to disk.

    Didn't Shuttle, Asus or someone like that do a prettified small form factor "entertainment PC" (this was before "media PCs" were hiptrendy) a few years back that could run most of its multimedia stuff direct from a Linux in ROM?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Acorn Archimedies anyone? Arthur, followed by RISCOS, both fully featured windowing environments ready to go in no time...

    Oh, yeah, some other company who ripped off all of Acorn's ideas did it too, I think they were called Apple, or something*. I wonder what happened to them...

    (*It's a joke! no flamewar required.)

  7. NoCo37

    Re: What was that IBM / Microsoft specced bios again...

    "Anyone else around who remembers the "directing the Turtle" program on AMSTRAD PCW's?"

    you mean Logo. ahh.... Logo......

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I think it's kinda hip...

    Personally, there are just times when I don't want to load an entire OS (coughvista, sneezexp, throatclear*nix)... All I want to do is check the email for any new death threats and maybe the weather...

    In a world that is dead set on going green, maybe it's not as pragmatic to keep my little home data center up 7/24, with UPS's and generator.

    And while just about everybody who can remember a COCO, trash 80, IBM PC/xt, apple II, et. al, can recount some quick boot scheme, two words: That was then, this is now...

    The world of OS's has become bloated with additional services, apps, scrips and other such crap that under casual circumstances, really aren't necessary. But, software publishers INSIST on burying them in the boot sequence so their presence is felt.

    About the only way one can accomplish a fairly quick boot scheme in a wintel box is to take a brand new machine, reformat the hard drive and install a virgin copy of the OS, and then tweak to what you deem acceptable, or switch to *nix.

    Or, you could just leave the machine on... Hooked to a UPS and maybe even a generator.

  9. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    More nostalgia...

    ...for Logo

  10. Gareth

    re: More nostalgia...

    "...for Logo"

    Ahhh yes. I used to love those little bricks...

  11. vincent himpe
    Dead Vulture


    i was playing with an embedded processor and associated toolchain a couple of weeks ago...

    byte x=0;

    void main(void){while (1) x=x+1;}

    lo and behold : 3682 bytes of rom code .... startup code ,intialisation code , exception handling code , runtime library. after tweaking the compiler options very heavily i got it down to 92 bytes of rom code ...

    i wrote it in assembler

    incr acc

    jump 0

    8 bytes ... ( machine is 32 bit... 4 bytes for the increment ACC and 4 for the jump 0 )

    where's my hole punch ..... with some squeezing we should be able to fit windows on about 50 cards ...

  12. Sceptical Bastard

    Wasted hours?

    One reboot a month doesn't exactly waste a lot of time. Why power down or reset a desktop computer unless it hangs or catches fire?

    Laptops are a different kettle of fish, I grant you - but laptops are for wimps, women and wankers showing off on trains ;)

  13. Michael Hitchins

    re: More nostalgia...

    i still remember writing loops that would draw out crazy spiral patterns like a spirograph

    i bet there's some bloatware windows version of logo nowadays, isnt there?

  14. Tuomo Stauffer

    Even older

    Almost any mainframe used to work that way. Way, way back I thought why to IPL (boot) a system to run self contained programs like some hardware testing, backups, etc and wrote a loader for certain IBM mainframes. Did work like a dream, startup time whatever it took to load the program(s) and you were running. Our hardware guys loved it. Never tried to go further, no time, but modified one console game to run that way. A dream, the whole mainframe for a game, no OS overhead, much fun!

  15. James Findley

    @ Amstrad PCWs

    I actually had a full 3d (well it was 3d lineart, not sure if that counts) helicopter sim for my amstrad pcw - pretty impressive for the hardware!

    ahh sweet nostagia :)

  16. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    Ah yes, the wonderful windows "Hibernate" option where it'll typically either just crash and BSOD on resuming. If it does happen to resume, when the desktop bothers to reappear, will be so unusably slow (and remains that way for about 20 minutes), that the only sane recourse is a hard reset and wait for the OS to restart from scratch.

    Yep, can see that relying on that's a great idea.

  17. tony trolle


    wasn't LOGO uppercase ?

    BT I think was one of the last UK companies to use punched card......

    Clack clack clack Kode units I remember I actually bought one for a £5; years before I started to work for them. lol

    Remember the IBM PC once had a tape interface lol

  18. rob miller
    Thumb Up

    tables turned

    for a time, especially on toshiba laptops (maybe still?), bios options could only be accessed through an app running under windows. surely not an effort to impede non-windows installs, of course....

  19. Dave


    Surely this has been invented a little late, given that microsoft have already released Vista Sideshow, which will allow simple stuff to be used (check mail, calendar) without even switching on the big PC.

  20. Shad


    I am guessing none of you have booted a Linux desktop in a while... its about twice as slow as MS Winblows. Painful in fact. It matters not if its Kubuntu or Mandriva, they are all sloooooooow.

    What we need is the full OS on a fast ROM. Leave the HDD out of the equation.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 98 revisited?

    This whole event driven gui thing was originally a way of getting around not having a proper operating Phoenix has built another version of early Windows. Should have stuck with 98.

    I often wonder what's going on in a typical modern Windows machine. There's a lot of stuff for the amount of useful work its doing.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing really changes

    "Remember the IBM PC once had a tape interface lol"

    My Spectrum used to be plugged into the headphone socket of my walkman to load games.

    Now I can boot up linux from my mp3 player.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    was recording a stream of what sounded like static from the radio (remember those?) to cassette tape, hooking the tape deck up to the beeb computer and loading the program.

    I remember when it were fields round here.

  24. Mike

    Sleepy time

    Dunno what all the fuss is about.

    I have a laptop and a desktop both running Vista. Whenever I finish working, press the sleep button and it powers down in less than 30 seconds (and as I've finished, I 'leave it to it', before you all start saying... "ooh but that's half a minute of my life wasted"). When I power the machine up again (a quick press of the space bar or open the lid) the logon screen is ready quicker than the LCD display warms up in.

    Only need to reboot is when updates/new software installed - time to make a cuppa while waiting machine to reload. Easy really... you should try the 21st Century some time, it's not as scary as you think!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fast boot times

    Worth remembering old micros with fast boot times were generally just starting a program in ROM, not actually loading anything per se, which is cheating. Also, never did see an IP stack on one of those; operating systems aren't just bloated, they're actually justifiably far bigger than they used to be.

    Anyway, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of an RM MiniBook (EEE PC) yesterday and it has a pretty tight boot time into a fairly minmal (but GUI) Linux environment. Not at all bad.

    If we all want fast boot times, and we're all going green, might I suggest smaller, slower systems running less flashy operating environments? With a 1GHz CPU, 512Mb of core and a 4Gb flash disk you can comfortably play media (OK, need an external hard drive to store much of it, but hey), use OOo, use Firefox and check mail, all with very low power consumption, virtually no noise at all (and I suspect in a larger, desktop case the fan could be eliminated too) and at a reasonable price.

    (This is not an astroturf post from ASUS. Honest, I just think the EEE PC is great. As a former Psion fan this is exactly the sort of machine I've always hoped someone would release.)

  26. Ben Holmes

    re: More nostalgia...

    Wasn't LOGO initially used on the BBC Model B? Or am I just showing my age (or lack thereof)

    The floor turtle thing was awesome though. The person who came up with that deserves a freakin medal.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Everything Old is New Again

    I wonder how many people in the industry remembers that the original IBM PC boots into ROM BASIC if it's started up without disks in the drive or hard disks connected. And back then, BASIC could do everything, including servicing crude terminal software to connect to BBSes and even the internet if you feel like it.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Hibernate is not all that bad...

    ... It just depends on how much RAM and how fast your drive is. And with a nice Samsung SSD, no more problems.


  29. Jon

    @ Sceptical Bastard

    "Laptops are a different kettle of fish, I grant you - but laptops are for wimps, women and wankers showing off on trains ;)"

    No.. That'll be Mac's..

    If I've got enough room to breath, I get my Laptop out on the train because i've got work to do and I get paid piece work. Every second I sit contemplating the joys of summer and how much I like the skinny top the gorgeous blonde opposite is wasted money.. But since it's no longer summer, and on British trains the person opposite usually looks like this:

    I'm happy to get my laptop out.. I usually keep it hibernated, so it does only take a few seconds to boot.

  30. Rob Lightbody
    Gates Halo

    Another vote for Hibernate

    Hibernate works fine on every PC I've ever used it on (XP or Vista). It takes my 3gb PC a maximum of 1 minute to be back where it was when it was hibernated. I only shutdown/reboot when an update forces me to. Both my laptop and desktop run happily for weeks like this.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Beware the hibernator...

    ... One of the worst data loss incidents I had on my laptop was caused by using the Hibernate option. When the PC resumed it completely lost the profile for the user, ie anything in My Documents, browser favourites, programme preferences etc. Now I save all my work on a separate partition to the windows system and never use Hibernate.

  32. Ian North

    RE: Logo

    "i bet there's some bloatware windows version of logo nowadays, isnt there?"

    There are several Windows versions of Logo available. One that is quite widely used in schools is MSWLogo and its successor, FMSLogo.

  33. Ross Fleming
    Thumb Up

    Hibernate - couldn't live without it

    I love the hibernate option!! Can honestly say I've never been let down by it. I'll only ever shutdown properly when I've got patches to apply. Relatively modern PC and laptop using it as well. Remember confusing the hell out of an "engineer" who fixed a laptop at work once by swapping the hard disk out into another model and couldn't understand why it was "resuming" in the new model.

    As for an OS on a ROM - would be a bugger to patch!

    LOGO - ah, FORWARD 10, LEFT 90 - loved it:

    for a modern compiler

  34. Anonymous Coward


    Berkely LOGO is available from here:

  35. Shakje

    @James Findley

    Was it called Tomahawk? Faintly remember something like that, my parents loved playing Batman and Robin on it and Head Over Heels (forgotten classic), as well as the Jewels of Darkness set and a fighter sim called Ace (not very good but I thought it was the dog's).

    Also, Vista goes to sleep when you click the shut down button, takes 5 seconds to shut down and 5 seconds to boot up again. Happy, happy medium (although it doesn't work too well with my USB headset).

  36. Joe Stalin


    Dumps the entire contents of ram stratight on to the hard disk. Next guy comes along and steals the hibernate file and can have a good read of the data you had in ram at the time you hibernated. You've been warned.

  37. The Mole
    Thumb Up


    Yep there's plenty of Window's clones available as it's still taught at school (amazing how it is most people's first programming language and they don't even realise it!)

  38. Steve Mason
    Thumb Up

    @ Wasted Hours

    my home pc stays always on too, but precisely for the reason that it takes a while to boot.

    if I want to use my machine I want to use it NOW, not turn it on, make a cup of tea, and come back when it's finished booting - this sort of thing might be precisely what's needed to get me back into the habit of turning my computer off at night.

  39. Stan


    Kturtle for KDE should satisfy anyones logo needs :) Only played around with it a bit but its impressive what a few short lines can do.

    As for booting into a minimal version of linux, is this related in any way to openbios ? I seem to remember they where getting boot times (not resume, full boot into a gui. xfce I think) of around 5 seconds using some clever tricks.


  40. Nick Palmer
    Gates Halo

    @Nick Ryan

    Don't know what machine you're dealing with, but the XP laptop I use hibernates in about 30 seconds and resumes in about the same. Actually, we use a LOT of XP laptops with hibernate enabled and I've never seen the problems you describe.

    The comments above concerning entertainment PCs etc struck a chord with me. While it's not virtualisation, haven't we had tons of machines for a while now that can boot into a limited environment to run a limited set of apps (usually media related)?

  41. Jason Togneri

    @ Fraser and bws

    Yes, you're both right - but the good old Acorn Archimedes (I still have and use two RISC PCs, one of which runs the Acorn32 version of NetBSD and the other RISC OS 3.7) was designed for the entire OS to reside on and run from a ROM chip. Upgrading your OS simply meant opening the top, taking out the old chip, and putting in a new one (as I did when I upgraded from ARM3 to StrongARM processor). There is a maximum of five seconds while it warms up, POSTs, and so forth, and then you're in a waiting and fully-useable windowed desktop environment. And this was nothing new for the RISC PC - it came out in 1995, when this way of working was old stuff for Acorn machines...

  42. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "One reboot a month doesn't exactly waste a lot of time"

    Well aren't you a poster child for energy savings !

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much OS though?


    Disks (RAID?, CD/DVD?, ZIP?, Tape?).

    Drivers (RAID, Bonded networking, Printers etc?).

    Graphical windowing.

    Non-standard input devices? (Tablets, specialist periphs for disabled?)


    Get HTML emails so, Browser

    Get Office docs, so word/excel/pp viewer?

    PDF viewer?

    Audio player?

    Video player?

    personalised settings (background, email, proxy, network etc?)

    Will that lot really load very quickly?

    This reminds me of a thought Ihad a bit ago regarding games. Really, most of windows isn't used in games, just the drivers, file system and directx... So surely it would be fairly easy to make a rapid boot version of that lot on one bootable cd (dvd?)....

  44. Dam

    Re: Hibernate

    "Ah yes, the wonderful windows "Hibernate" option where it'll typically either just crash and BSOD on resuming. If it does happen to resume, when the desktop bothers to reappear, will be so unusably slow (and remains that way for about 20 minutes), that the only sane recourse is a hard reset and wait for the OS to restart from scratch.

    Yep, can see that relying on that's a great idea."

    Oh, using vista then ? UPgrade to XP.

  45. Dave

    RE: broken hibernate/standby

    Maybe you should try configuring your machines correctly then?

    Both my desktop and laptop work flawlessly when hibernating (until the domain session times out after a couple of weeks and you have to do a logout and login before you can access resources again) and my mediacentre goes into and out of standby perfectly from the remote control!

    I remember LOGO too....

    Anyone for the RM Nimbus?

  46. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Bootstrapping Unix version 7 tape from a TU10

    I remember sitting at the switch console of a PDP11/40, and switching in the following:

    (load tape to load point)

    100000 (dduddddddddddddddd examine)

    012700 (dddddududuuudddddd deposit)

    172526 (dduuuudududududuud deposit)

    010040 (dddddudddddddudddd deposit)

    012740 (dddddududuuuuddddd deposit)

    060003 (ddduuddddddddddduu deposit)

    000777 (ddddddddduuuuuuuuu deposit)

    100000 (dduddddddddddddddd start)

    (tape moves)

    000000 (dddddddddddddddddd start)

    ROM boot-straps? Paper tape. Pah. Real geeks use switches!

  47. andrew mulcock

    VM ware


    a computer that boots from 'rom' and allows one to run VMware players, now that would be interesting,

    BTW: Was that not the old mac

  48. bambi

    Ahh Acorn....

    The Arch with its 2Mb RISC OS on a chip, lots of shiney windows and colours and a mouse.

    I never did fill my 80Mb (yes Mb) HDD I had on my old A3000.If it crashed it usualy meant you had spilled coffee into one of its air vents. It even worked with a Heathkit (?) home made 2800 baud modem!

  49. Ross


    I presume they'll squash a BSD kernel into a ROM chip with a cpl of tools (I don't see them rushing to use GPL'd code) The problem is unless you're running a builtin network card (wired or wireless) isn't it unlikely that you'll have the drivers available to be able to connect to the internet to read your mail? I have a USB WiFi dongle 'cause I don't think WiFi (or colour TV) had been invented when I got my box for example.

    It's a nice idea - want to check your mail but you have to leave the house in 5 mins tops so you can't wait for Vista to boot etc. I'm just not convinced it'll be practical for everyone at the moment.

  50. thomas k.

    Linus boots faster?

    Maybe some sort of embedded system can boot quickly but I always found that it takes Linux just as long, if not longer, to boot from a cold start as does Windows.

    If you only have to reboot every few years, I guess you'd tend to forget that long boot time. I prefer to turn my boxes off when not in use.

  51. Peter Kay

    Bios/IBM Basic was actually fairly recent-ish

    It still worked on the Thinkpad 701 'butterfly' sub notebook. The basic is even less functional than GW Basic though, so don't get your hopes up..

    Not sure what the relevance of Logo is though. Yes, the PCW had DR Logo - it ran under CP/M 3+ using the GSX library. The PCW had no real BIOS - only an extremely basic disk loading routine.

    Unless of course what's meant is the short lived PCW16, which stored its operating system and apps in Flash, but didn't include Logo as far as I'm aware.

  52. Lyndon Hills

    Quick Boot

    Seems to me that if all you want to do is browse or email then a better answer would be a modern mobile phone.

  53. Rhiakath Flanders

    Irony of times?

    Ahhh, the good old days on my XT, or the 8086, where i needed a hairdryer pointing at the side latch, to warm up the hard drive... it would be so cold at home on winter, that the disc would shrink a bit, and the head would not find boot sector....

    Had 640k RAM, a 20 mb disk... floppy.. And THAT was a super computer... already with a hdd.... CGA graphics... wow....

    Now, i need water cooling to keep it below 30 º C....

    2 Gb to run everything smoothly... and 1 Tb of hdd.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ rob miller

    Re: tables turned

    I think you'll find that to get into the toshiba bios, you can either use the windows based program, or the accidentally discovered method of holding down the esc key while turning the machine on... it leads to a 'keyboard error', where you can press F1 to get into the BIOS...!

    @everyone else...

    LOGO was great fun... I remember playing with those turtles at primary school (which I left 13 years ago), but they still use versions of them (I do some work there on occation)

    Now, where's the 'ahh... nostalgia' icon? I suppose I could use the angel Bill (ie when microsoft was a good company), or the alien (when they first landed), but I'll have to go with the Paris icon - can't remember life before Paris!!

  55. Simon Westerby

    Hibernate Vs Standby ...

    Stand by does not require your PC to "Plugged into the mains", just have a supply of power from somewhere .. My laptop goes on standyby everynight and i pop it into its case, and it happily starts up the next day in a flash!

    I also standby my home PC's... i think i tried hibernate once (but it WAS windows 98 - 'nuff said) and it really broke on resume ...

    I might try it again when i feel like a challenge!

  56. Dave Driver
    Thumb Up


    I WROTE a LOGO interpreter. I spent a year of my life on this (86-87) and it actually worked. It was a fascinating exercise in recursive programming. Mind you, it was written on a pretty modern machine - a twin floppy Olivetti PC, using Pascal. Perhaps I should have taken on a real challenge and done it on my Microtan 65 in 6502 assembler.

    Happy days.

  57. Luther Blissett

    Nostalgia in divers forms

    LOGO was ok until Naomi Klein came along. Don't hear too much about it these days.

    The reason you couldn't get earlier versions Windows into ROM was that when it had to support both 16 bit and 32 bit programs, it did this thru self-modifying code which set up and cleared the subroutine return stacks properly.

    @ vincent himpe: aren't you supposed to be working rather than reliving glory days as a student let loose on an assembler for the very first time?

    I also recall that real programmers never used Pascal. But I never found what those that did, did with him. Bouncing ideas off? Goferring? Or something that the young at heart would not want to know about?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hibernate isn't all it's meant to be

    Something on my mother's computer doesn't exit properly and keeps eating system resources every time it's run. Inevitably an actual proper reboot fixes it but she never reboots anymore since discovering hibernate.

  59. Frank Bellavance

    @Mike : Sleepy time

    If you're using a laptop, try unpluging it and seeing how much you like that option the next day. Sleep and hybernate are not the same. Sleep just powers off "most" of the computer and leaves everything in RAM. If you loose power (your battery runs out), you loose everything

  60. Peter Rowland

    hurry up

    Linux is working on faster boot times with programs called openbios and upstart.


  61. Chris Fryer

    Re: Hibernate...

    As has been said, saving the contents of RAM to the HDD is a bit of a bore, and probably a security risk. What's more, if you Hibernate an XP box from your session, you've effectively made your machine single-user only.

    A neat trick might be to log out, then hibernate from the login screen. You'd save all that time spent booting you to the login screen, and presto! the multi-user OS you paid for.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Persistent hibernate...

    Actually it's just occurred to me that there is a way to do a persistent hibernate, so the machine can come back in a consistent minimal state rather than how you left it...

    Now how do you get the file size down?

    It doesn't really need to store the unused bits fo RAM does it?

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @Chris Fryer

    > and presto! the multi-user OS you paid for.

    Errmmmm... actually, Windows isn't multi-user, and never will be unless it's rewritten from scratch, because it doesn't have an adequate security model in which "true" administrator (root) mode is enforced.

    Being able to log in with a choice of profiles, or being able to "Fast user switch" might seem impressive to Gates fanboys, but it's a complete joke to users of real multiuser systems.

    Having a problem with a particular running process? Just Ctrl-Alt-Fkey and open a new shell, log in as root, and have a look around the system. Subject to available system resources (basically, memory, and without a WinOS you don't need much!), keep logging on as as a different user as many times as you like... or even as the same user multiple times... or, as a party piece, SSL in from somewhere else and start a VNC session to use a GUI remotely. It all comes as standard on a real OS, and it's a bad wake-up call when you occasionally have to use Windows and remember that Redmond haven't managed to produce a true multi-user OS yet... :-(

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