back to article Windows 8 to boot in 8 seconds

Microsoft is touting very fast boot times for Windows 8, thanks to the clever trick of writing the kernel state to disk at shutdown. Rather than write the whole contents of memory to Windows' hibernation file, Windows 8 just writes enough to be able to put the state of driver, services and such back into memory, ready to run, …


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  1. Herby Silver badge

    8 Seconds, eh??

    Other things work in 8 seconds as well, but one usually calls that "premature"!

    Maybe Steve Ballmer can elaborate on this as well!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Microsoft promise this for Vista and Windows 7 too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but I think I remember reading something on this very channel, that someone held a patent for such trickery. Perhaps El-Reg can enlighten us.

    2. Malcolm 1

      Blame the driver writers

      They've been optimizing boot performance for years - as with many of Windows' deficiencies it's primarily the result of poorly optimised drivers:

      By hibernating the kernel Windows 8 should be able to sidestep this problem with slow-loading drivers - quite a neat solution.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Believe it when I see it

    Most impressive but is this with a i7 with a solid state drive and fresh install?? What will it be like when its had apps installed and the build is over 6 months old, what then?

    Believe it when I see it

    1. JC_

      Read the Article

      Yes, the laptop in the demo video has an i7 chip and an SSD. It'll probably be just as fast after six months though, going by the 2 year old SSD in my Win7 desktop, which hasn't slowed down at all.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Beg to differ

        Win 7 hibernate on my laptop with raid 0 ssd's is actually slower than a cold boot.

        Plus ms still fail to make hibernate 100% reliable.

  4. Pete Spicer

    Then it's irritating marketing rather than a really good technical effort.

    I don't consider the time of booting to be how long it takes the kernel to reinstate itself, but the total time between power on and usable desktop (excluding the time it takes me to enter my user name and password).

    Considering that it seems to be the post-kernel boot process that's the real killer, that's where the effort needs to be applied.

  5. spencer

    Glad to see Windows catching up

    Of course there's been Linux Distros booting up in similar times for years.

    1. PsychicMonkey

      I was waiting

      "for the Linux has been doign this for year comment."

      surprised it took 5 comments to be honest....

      1. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

        Title goes here

        Thats nothing, my ZX81 used to boot up even faster than Linux...

        1. spencer

          o rly?

          You know a zx81 used tape. IIRC Boot times were horribly slow....

          Why is it so terrible to point out that other OS's boot times?? Surely the only reason they've bothered to improve boot time is because of competing OS's?

          1. spencer

            (pls ignore terrible grammar, it's been a long lunch)

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. spencer

              fair point

              you got to the point where you had a command line from which you could write a 2 line goto loop fairly quickly. And strictly speaking that is the point and yes you're both correct.

              However, the example I was trying to make (badly) is that modern, rival Os's often boot up to a usable state quicker than MS products and if that wasn't the case then MS wouldn't be striving to make their boot time quicker...

          3. sabroni Silver badge

            zx81 os

            the os on the zx81 was on a rom not a tape. You switch the zx81 on and the os loads pretty much instantly. Of course if you wanted to use it to do something other than code in basic you had to load from a tape, but the os (such as it was) was built in.

        2. Graham Marsden

          Re: ZX81

          Pah! My BBC Micro was quicker! Switch on, Boop-Beep! and there you were!

          1. sheep++;

            Re: ZX81

            I remember ordering a ZX81 when I was a young ignorant programmer (and now of course, I'm an old ignorant programmer) but the delivery time was going to be phenomenal, which cancelled out the OS loading time, on average. And I too got a BBC Micro, which in those days was easy to learn inside out.

            Then I sold it, and I so regretted selling it (the BBC).

          2. Anonymous Coward

            @ Graham Marsden

            Actually the ZX81 would be quicker, 'cos it didn't do any of that poncey showboating "Boop-Beep" shit before displaying the command line (it didn't have sound y'see).

  6. Simon R. Bone

    I see....

    "Windows 8 will retain the - optional - ability to perform a full cold boot, loading and initialising the drivers and services from storage."

    What's the odds that Windows Update will require a cold boot after every time it runs?

    1. Patrick O'Reilly


      I'd say very high, given Windows updates most likely contain kernel updates.

      1. mfraz

        What are the chances that they'll be able to install the updates during normal use and not part of the shutdown procedure?

        1. Annihilator


          "What are the chances that they'll be able to install the updates during normal use and not part of the shutdown procedure?"

          Quite high, given that most of the (Win 7) updates I see these days don't require a full reboot.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Standy by. Hot news coming im 3...2...1...0


    Hot off the presses this news,

    MS gets a patent for compressing something and uncompressing it a bit later.

    Hmmm much like what happens in a Linux boot then?

    {I made it up but...}

    1. David Neil

      Patent and innovation

      Well, it took Apple a few years to hype "instant on", which the rest of the planet had called "sleep mode"

  8. Len Goddard
    Thumb Down

    why bother?

    With a decent SSD a full boot of windows 7 from the end-of-bios to the login prompt is not exactly a time consuming operation. The major issue is the crud which occurs after you log in (which is not helped here).

    I think I'd rather have the full boot every time so that at least I know my current session is not contaminated with some undiagnosable lurgy inherited from a previous session.

    1. Ru

      This isn't about your desktop

      Its about tablets, because manufacturers seem to feel that they're the future.

  9. Wimmy

    Hurrah, PCs to finally come on par with macs. About time.

    Though, it'll never work.

    1. Bamamanan

      Scan any tech comments and you'll always find the Apple fanboi. My friend, who has a Mac, asked which games I play on my PC, my reply: All of them!

    2. serviceWithASmile

      pcs on par with macs?

      i wasn't aware apple had dragged the rest of us down to their level.

      seriously though, I have a brand spanking new imac at work and it still takes 5 minutes to warm up enough to give me a useable desktop in the morning - which I'm managing to overlook only because it turns out you can change the system options to put the control key where it *should* be.

      some people seem to think they are somehow 'better' but tbh all I see is 'different'.

  10. Monty Burns

    Eeeek! And most of that was BIOS POST!

  11. Mondo the Magnificent

    A question of time...

    How long will it take before some Patent Troll cracks their knuckles and decides to sue Redmond for millions on the grounds that they "hold the patent" for a very similar boot technology..

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    would you trust a Windows kernel session to live longer than a week anyway?

    One thing I love about having a Windows VM is that I can pause execution. It's the only way to keep the system usable and mitigate the need for relentless rebooting.

    I suppose saving the session is a similar concept, but having the benefit of a robust host OS and only minor need for Windows applications means that a typical session of mine only lasts half an hour a week.

    And it still manages to spend most of that time fragmenting the disk and then pissing around trying to defragment it.

    1. The Original Steve

      Your doing something wrong...

      ... if you can't keep a WinTel box running more than a week.

      My boxes get rebooted on the monthly patch schedule and that's it. Our 2008R2 Core servers (no GUI) haven't been rebooted for nearly 6 months as there's sod all to patch that's actually in use / a service restart won't fix.

      Just decomissioned a box that is out of scope of our patch runs that on 2008.... hasn't been booted for 2 years

      So yeah - I'd trust the NT Kernel session to live for way more than a week. My Win7 laptop only gets a look in every couple of months unless there's a patch that needs to be urgently applied.

  13. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    Correct me if I'm wrong but my XP laptop has been doing better than this for a LONG time. It's basically called hibernation or standby - this isn't improving BOOT times at all - it's hibernating. And hibernating with a MUCH faster disk that I'll ever put into a laptop to make it look fast. And all the problems and software-cooperation that comes with that, too (hope all your legacy drivers are perfect and now how to hibernate properly!).

    Now my XP workstation can avoid BIOS boot, so long as I keep some very low battery power supplied, for 24 hours of more (it's called "bog standard standby"). Resume is pretty much instantaneous. All this is is an improvement on hibernation (where you write the standby memory to a disk instead). Granted that the BIOS would pop up but any half-decent BIOS can easily be written to do such a thing quickly - it's just the same as something like Coreboot speeding up the hard-disk into its fastest modes and THEN reading a file from disk and resuming from its state. It's not anything particularly clever, innovative, or new.

    Computers have been doing this for literally DECADES and a one-off show on pre-chosen hardware is really nothing to crow about. In fact, in that case, 8 FECKING SECONDS?! That's ludicrously slow. You could have diddled the BIOS into being a "Windows 8 compatible" one and made it near-instantaneous with an SSD (which Windows is increasingly being designed towards so would barely raise an eyebrow).

    Additionally - we have the age old problems with boot-time claims:

    1) Nobody boots. Laptop users don't HAVE a boot time, only a suspend/resume time. Full boots are for when things go wrong.

    2) Those who do boot don't notice the time compared to anything else (e.g. application load time, etc.)

    3) Those who do boot and take ages in BIOS (i.e. servers) do so for a reason - stability, testing and predictability (not to mention that they only full-boot once a year, if that).

    So smartphones/laptops (hell, even my old Palm) already have it. 99% of servers wouldn't use it (not much point in a server being in hibernation - either it's on or not). The rest of the market don't really care about boot time anyway.

    Don't get me wrong, the tech is wonderful. It was back when APM was first invented too, and even before that. But claiming that Windows 8 will be doing anything "special" as regards boot-time is ludicrous. If this is the first selling-point of Windows 8, that's a warning to people like me who have to decide whether or not to buy hundreds of units of it.

    1. JC_

      Read the article. MS have statistics for boot / sleep / hibernate usage and re-booting is still up there.

    2. Keith Langmead

      Yes Hibernation has been around for a long time, but the problem these days is that as powerful computers get more and more memory in them that means more and more data that needs dumping to disk every time. Hiberating an 8GB computer takes quite a long time.

      OK, so this isn't revolutionary, but to my mind it is smart evolution. If you can't fix all the problems in one hit, at least fix some of the little things that you can control.

  14. Z 1

    Didn't they try to do this with XP? It races to the desktop, then thrashes the hard drive as it tries to load all the services for you...

    1. Tim Walker

      That was my first thought upon reading the main article: if one is going to claim "boot in X seconds", you have to define when "booting" is finished.

      For instance, WinXP tries to give the impression that it "boots" quickly, by loading the desktop as soon as it can. However, you then have to wait a couple of minutes whilst all the remaining services load up, as the machine is just too slow to use until they've finished. (That's not a fanboi point: Mac OS X isn't much different in my subjective experience.)

      Of course, a fast boot also depends on the specific services you're loading up. My Eee 701SD netbook (running Arch Linux) can boot to the login prompt in about ten seconds, but then I've tried to cut out the fatty bits (GNOME, KDE, etc.) and run Fluxbox, which helps speed things up.

      So, maybe MS' claim is accurate, but I'd want to find out how the goalposts are spaced...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ahh, the good old days.

        When first powering my machine on in the morning, I knew it would be a good day if I could ctrl-alt-del and log into the domain before Windows NT, I think, had even loaded tcp/ip.

        Of course, this beats the boot time on my universities DPS-8/47, which was 25 minutes

  15. Spasticus

    Is that with or without anti-virus software loaded?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    8 Seconds?

    Yeah right. That'll be 8 seconds the first few weeks until it starts on the gentle, inexorable decline to "time for a reinstall" via "just time for a slice of toast" and "may as well make a pot of coffee".

  17. Jim 59

    New/Old machine

    Boot times of brand new, empty PCs were never the issue. The problem starts when you install a few things. A Windows PC takes longer to start every day, until users dread turing the thing on. Many non-expert users just assume their PC is slow becuase it is old. They buy a new one and are delighted how fast it boots. Some of them use a clean-up service with similar effect.

    Windows' long boot time is largely down to the loading of an ever lengthening list of "zombie craplets", and the necessaity to have malware protection in the background. The OS isn't stable enough to undergo many hibernate/wake up sessions, it will always need rebooting now and again, so long boot up times will remain a feature even with this clever mod.

    1. Sooty

      Yep, the key to improving windows boot times, is to stop allowing applications to install loads of crap that runs at boot, especially without your explicit permission.

      I really don't want my pc to take 20-30 seconds longer to boot, just so that office, or IE can be loaded then, and kept in memory and appear instantly when i click the icon. Not to mention the sheer volume of crud that iTunes installs that boots with windows.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My windows 7 machine boots in significantly less time already

  19. Paul_O


    My MacBook Air boots up, logs in and opens all the Apps and docs I was last using in 8 seconds. How is this MS feature supposed to impress people exactly?

    1. Mike Richards

      In Lion?

      If so wow! Ever since I installed 10.7 my MBA boot times have become incredibly protracted.

    2. Eradicate all BB entrants

      I think ....

      ..... you have confused booting a machine with unlocking your screensaver.

  20. Elmer Phud
    Thumb Down

    Tea time

    I prefer the 'press power button, put kettle on, make tea, sit down to machine' approach.

    None of this 'instant' malarkey -- won't somebody think of the workers?

    1. Gavin King


      I've managed to get it down to a fine art: "press power button, boil kettle, while boiling, enter password, return to tearoom, set tea steeping, and the return to machine", which by this point is all ready to go.

      Although speaking of instant, you should smell (or heaven forbid, taste) the coffee we're given. Yuck!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you guys are funny

    It sounds like some of you would be much, much happier if Windows 8 took longer to boot.

    At least then you'd have some valid reasons for criticisms rather than this usual tripe..

    If they add features it's anti-trust baiting bloatware

    If they take them away then it's a rip off

    If they have different versions then it's "confusing"

    If they don't have different versions, then it's a rip off paying for unused features..

    It's too different from the previous version

    It's too similar to the previous version

    This doesn't just go for Microsoft, but in general critics don't mind if other critics have entirely contradictory reasons for complaining... so long as they're complaining.

    Yes it remains to be seen (which makes the whole business of prejudgements silly), however it seems apparent they even if they announce features that would be welcomed on any other system, some will find a reason to complain.

    And complain, not that it'll be bad, but shock horror, it might be good, possibly successful and pervasive OS on everything from desktops to tablets. That would be awful, if M$ ever bring out a decent O/S you guys will have to find something else to bitch about.

    Your mum's cooking perhaps?

    1. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      @AC RE "You guys are funny"

      "That would be awful, if M$ ever bring out a decent O/S you guys will have to find something else to bitch about."

      Any of us who have been reading El Reg for some time have noticed that a certain section of the commentariat *will* regard it as a disaster if Win8 is any good and the trans-platform strategy is competently implemented.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IT Whingers...

      @AC - Bang on.

      It never ceases to amaze me the amount of things that IT guys manage to whinge about. Often it boils down to change, which is ironic for such a fast moving field.

      "I've learned XYZ OS and can't be arsed to learn another, therefore I'll just bitch about the others in the hope that I can keep going with my single OS and keep my cushy job." Seems to be a very common reason for bitching other OSes. This goes for a certain group of all OS admins/devs: zOS, iOS(not that one!), UNIXes, Linuxes, Windows, Mac OS, all have these people and they're all tedious.

      Still, one thing that I've learned in 12 years of working in IT is that you don't get anywhere by whinging all the time. I know people still on the helpdesk at my first company, whinging about the fact that they've not been promoted, but not actually doing anything about it. There are other people who started at the same time now in senior management, because they put themselves forward, embraced new stuff and made things better rather than just complaining about their lot.

  22. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Back in the olden days

    Back in the olden days, my Windows System booted up from DOS to Windows in 2 seconds.

    Then most linux-based X-Servers boot up in that timeframe, even when running on a Pentium 90.

    The big problem is that this time doesn't reflect the true boot time. Those 8 seconds won't give you the services you usually need, like an SQL-Server or a webserver.

    1. AceRimmer

      yeah, cause everyone needs access to SQL Server and a webservice on their desktop

  23. fourThirty

    the medal is on its way...

    Bravo Paul_O!

    Gold medal in the mail to you for owning a Mac, and successfully posting a smug comment about it!

  24. Bascule

    but but but

    My i7 running win3.11 boots way quicker than that..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Around 1999 to 2000 I worked for the local council installing PCs and servers into council offices, schools and that sort of thing. Because Councils never permit anything new until they have tested it to death we were installing Windows 3.11 onto Desktops with a PII processor running at something like 450-500MHz

      Boot time from cold to the logon screen was about as long as it would take you to read the following sentence out loud:

      post, post, post, post, doswindows

      As long as you read the last bit really quickly.

  25. Bascule


    No point sending a 'gold' medal.

    However, a nice shiny thin aluminium one would be just the ticket.

    He could multi-touch himself for ages over that ;-)

  26. FunkyEric

    Why boot?

    Usually leave my old PC on 24/7, they were designed to be run that way anyway, so boot times are rarely an issue. And lappy just goes to sleep at night anyway lol

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Your PC wasn't designed to run 24/7, the hard disk probably has a duty cycle of about 8 hours at a time. This doesn't mean to say that it won't run all day, but you'll reduce it's lifespan.

      Having said that, I leave my Fedora netbook booted all the time and just close the lid when I'm finished with it, it does run on an SSD though. Last reboot was after a month of "uptime" becuase I accidentally let the battery run out.

  27. Cam 2

    Sounds like they are adding complexity at shutdown time, and whenever a real shutdown is needed, which I'm guessing will be a familiar scenario. I've seen some Windows systems take longer to shutdown than boot already...

    What users would really appreciate is a system so stable it can be hibernated or suspended endlessly, apps and all, instead of being shut down. Some non-Microsoft systems already do this :)

  28. Anonymous Coward

    8 seconds? Pathetic!

    Since I stuck a Compact Flash card into my Amiga 1200 as an HD, I get Workbench up in 4 seconds.

  29. Alienrat

    MBA 8 seconds?

    You must have a really fast macbook air then, my wifes one isn't that fast. It is fast, but not 8 seconds fast. I have just put a new crucial 256GB SSD in my macbook pro, so now it is 28 seconds from power to useable desktop with apps and documents loaded (down from 67 seconds on a monumentus XT 500GB). I am quite happy with that, although I don't tend to restart.

    However, I think it is good that people are trying to improve. My windows 7 machine only takes a few seconds to logon screen, but from start it takes a few minutes before it is in the state that you could call usable. I don't quite understand the linux / mac comments anyway - windows starting faster doesn't take anything away from you.

    After all - it may take 2 minutes to get to a usable desktop in windows, but in linux, it has been 30 years and we are still waiting :) <runs>

  30. Stefan 2

    Times, they are a changin'

    Or they should be, but I don't see much evidence.

    PC architecture dictates these ridiculous, non-threaded ways to initialise hardware. We may have progressed from ISA through PCI, PCI-x and (now) PCIe, but the model has remained the same for a long time.

    Devices are dumb and rely on drivers to make them do anything. This is evident so clearly when your OS first starts the long crawl to usability, after power-on. Those lovely low-res graphics reminding you which OS you have installed. No greater reminder is there that we are relying on ridiculously outdated technology.

    Where is the standard graphics interface? It shouldn't be difficult, what with all the muscle your average GPU carries (more than most PC's, if stories are to be believed). Windows should be interfacing with something resembling a fast framebuffer, but with obvious additional capabilities. Instead, Windows interfaces with a driver, which abstracts all of the fast stuff behind a lot of code. Sometimes the code doesn't do much and just passes and translates API calls, sometimes it does a *lot* of work to fool Windows into thinking it is dealing with native capabilities.

    Until we morph the 'driver' model into something else, like a smart device with a teensy bit of glue code, those boot times are only ever going to get longer.

    Mashing kernel images into a compressed file is just putting lipstick on a pig.

    1. Tinker Tailor Soldier

      If your video hardware was designed in the early 90's... maybe?

      The CPU does NOT access a frame-buffer for rendering. The CPU might access textures to write to using aperture memory. After that it uses vertices, vertex shaders and pixel shaders (assuming a low-endish GPU) to cause a completely different co-processor to render the result to the screen.

      The driver is responsible for handling the fact that all of these GPUs are incredibly different. They run different ISAs on their streaming units (basically a SIMD instruction set). You supply an instruction set that is JIT compiled to the correct architecture by the driver. Some GPUs run video on a general compute framework, other GPUs run video on very specific piexe of silicon. Lets not even talk about the fact that the memory ordering of all of the texture memory is specific to the GPU too to optimize cache locality.

      In an ideal world all of this crazy capability would be standardized into an ISA and you could abandon the driver, but we are nowhere near having enough conformity in the hardware to allow this. But if you look at what AMD is implying by their roadmaps, seems to me like we'll get there.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    inet cruft

    boot time is all very well, but... MS would do well to implement a "check for updates" manager, to stop all the world's cruft from scanning the web every 17.5 pico seconds for an update to some obscure software you never use anymore...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They have

      They have, it's called the Windows Scheduler, very few companies use it though, which is odd, because it's actually more effort for them to write their update widget than it is to just create a schedule.

  32. Mr Young

    8 seconds boot?

    Wow that was fast...wait a minute?

    "Updates are ready to install"

    10 minutes later...

    "You need to restart your computer"

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Pperson

      Don't worry...

      ...they'll steal your idea next year and call it their own revolutionary innovation.

  34. adnim Silver badge

    more time

    waiting for PC to boot... less time working. This is only an issue if you love your work.

    For me, wiping a couple of minutes off boot time is meh and a shrug or so what Icon would be more useful. Of course others' mileage may vary.

  35. veletron


    Meanwhile, your PC's BIOS will take roughly twice this amount of time to POST... WTF is going on in the average PC's BIOS that takes so long?

    Maybe MS can hassle the BIOS devs to get their bit done in a more reasonable 1-2seconds.

    1. Stuart Duel

      BIOS is dead

      Well, at least Apple shot it between the eyes when they walked in Intel's front door and jumped into bed with the all new, modern EFI.


    windows 8

    ok so microsoft is finally wanting to make windows boot up faster buy reducing the amount of stuff that loads. but why couldnt they do this on previous versions of windows like vista 7 xp 2000

  37. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    Yeah, what about all the programs looking for updates?

    As soon as you turn on the damn PC, every installed program (including the OS) piles onto the Internet looking for updates. If they could simply block all the 'check for updates' app panic for the first twenty minutes after boot, then maybe I could actually get to the emergency situation information I require before it's too late.

    In summary: Let the Meat Machine use the Internet FIRST, please and thank you.

    Damn, I can't believe that it's 2011 and we still have ask for this basic, common sense sh!t. On most versions of Windows, even moving the cursor from the Start Button directly towards the Control Panel pops up the All Programs list, blocking the desired destination. Sigh...

  38. MrcX

    totally unbiased article

    Now, how come I have never read an unbiased article on this site on different workstation OS'es... just putting things as they are, without quirky or clever comments

  39. GekoBR

    Almost as copied from macosX Lion last version... lol

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