Seasoned Windows users who’ve been around the block to fix sick PCs, especially the IT guys, will be familiar with the ‘press F8 a zillion times’ technique to get to the fugly Windows pre-boot mode where you select Safe Mode or continue on your merry way. Microsoft hopes to change all that and details how Windows 8 will change the way you look at reboots and will eventually do away with “catching” the DOS-Prompt-like options.
Essentially, Microsoft has no choice but to do this since Windows 8 reboots significantly faster than Windows 7. This is especially true of a Windows 8 PC that uses a solid-state drive. Windows 8 Lead Steven Sinofsky talks about the experience of how they addressed the issue:
” …the hardware and software improvements in Windows 8 have collapsed the slice of time that remains for Windows to read and respond to the F8 keystroke. We have SSD-based UEFI systems where the “F8 window” is always less than 200 milliseconds. No matter how fast your fingers are, there is no way to reliably catch a 200 millisecond event. So you tap. I remember walking the halls and hearing people frantically trying to catch the F8 window – “tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap” – only to watch them reboot several times until they managed to finally get a tap inside the F8 window. We did an informal study and determined that top performers could, at best, sustain repeated tapping at about a 250ms frequency. Even in this best case, catching a 200 millisecond window still depends somewhat on randomness. And even if you eventually manage to catch this short window of time, you still have to contend with sore fingers, wasted time, and just how ridiculous people look when they are frantically jamming on their keyboard.”
According to Microsoft’s User Experience Manager Chris Clark, the F8 key is ready to ride into the sunset. Now, you can get to the pre-Start screen it either through an “advanced startup” in settings, or through Start menu shortcuts. And if the PC has tons of problems, Windows 8 will it show automatically. This is more true with systems using UEFI-based motherboards and devices instead of BIOS – which is pretty much outdated. In addition, the new features will allow PC modders to change more advanced settings and, if they want to, can go straight to the DOS prompt, recover an image or boot from external storage.
It’s a “three solutions – one experience” that Microsoft is touting for those looking to not only play doctor with sick PCs but race driver for fast ones.
Check the jump on the video and the source for a comprehensive post on Microsoft’s new approach to rebooting.