Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

Summary: The feature is a hybrid between a standard cold boot and restoring your PC from a hibernated state. Here's how it works.


Are you the sort of person who prefers to shut your PC down at the end of the day rather than hibernate it or put it to sleep, but do you still want the system to start up fast? Windows 8 has a new feature that will be of great interest to you.

The feature is called 'fast startup mode' and it is a hybrid between a standard cold boot and restoring your PC from a hibernated state. How does it work? Gabe Aul, director of program management in Windows, explains over on the Building Windows 8 blog:

The key thing to remember though is that in a traditional shutdown, we close all of the user sessions, and in the kernel session we close services and devices to prepare for a complete shutdown.

Now here's the key difference for Windows 8: as in Windows 7, we close the user sessions, but instead of closing the kernel session, we hibernate it. Compared to a full hibernate, which includes a lot of memory pages in use by apps, session 0 hibernation data is much smaller, which takes substantially less time to write to disk. If you're not familiar with hibernation, we're effectively saving the system state and memory contents to a file on disk (hiberfil.sys) and then reading that back in on resume and restoring contents back to memory. Using this technique with boot gives us a significant advantage for boot times, since reading the hiberfile in and reinitializing drivers is much faster on most systems (30-70% faster on most systems we've tested).

How much faster is this than a standard cold boot? Take a look at this:

Here's how fast startup is different to a traditional cold boot:

The speed of the handoff between POST and Windows depends on whether the system has a traditional BIOS or the newer Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) ... so watch out for the sales pitch for new systems:

One thing you'll notice in the video was how fast the POST handoff to Windows occurred. Systems that are built using Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) are more likely to achieve very fast pre-boot times when compared to those with traditional BIOS. This isn't because UEFI is inherently faster, but because UEFI writers starting from scratch are more able to optimize their implementation rather than building upon a BIOS implementation that may be many years old. The good news is that most system and motherboard manufacturers have begun to implement UEFI, so these kinds of fast startup times will be more prevalent for new systems.

And here it is in action:

The notebook used in that video is an EliteBook 8640p (Intel Core i7-2620M, 8GB, 160GB SSD).

Note: Anyone else feel that there's a cut at the end of that video?

This is impressive stuff, but I'm left with some nagging questions:

  • This is not a cold boot, so will there be a degradation in performance over time when using it? It seems that using the Restart command will revert to a cold boot.
  • How do applications and antivirus and all the other junk people have on their systems affect fast startup? In many cases it isn't Windows that slows down boot times, but all the other junk installed.
  • Is cold boot any faster or is that as fast as Microsoft can make it?

So, what do you think?

See also:

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

    Yes, there is a cut at the end of the video, but it is after the boot completion. It would make no sense to cheat with this, devs will be able to try it themselves at Build next week.
    • Absolutely correct

      I can get almost as fast a boot with Win7 if I strip out the initialization of the firewall, anti-virus, lan, audio, backup, printer, etc. Without knowing the configuration of the laptop, the demo is largely meaningless.

      I also find it curious that Microsoft did the so-obvious cut that raises doubts about the demo rather than simply doing a second or third take. Hey, it's only 41 seconds long.
      • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

        Maybe they did and this was the best of all the takes?
        Perhaps it wouldn't start another time?
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      @Oslik : there's something significant of the cut (and the fact that some computer enhancement was done to the video to minimize the cut) in that it exposes something nobody had noticed so far.

      Here's the take. Windows 8 starts on full screen mode, just like Windows Media Center.

      Just like WME, any Alert box both destroys the interaction and damages the UI.

      Most Windows Services have no UI, but most "userland services" (aka McAfee, Evernote, LogMeIn, PGP, etc.) some time share a dialog or two when things don't go as planned. Most of them are Win32 MessageBox [<a href="">1</a>]. Even HTML5 has a <i>alert("x");</i> function. What's going to happen with this interaction on Windows 8.

      Maybe the video was cut due to some untimely alert from an unexpected service failure.
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      thats right, the cut is after boot completion and in any case devs can try this themselves so the program manager need not cheat. It is impressive for sure, looking forward to get hands on it
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      @Oslik <br><br>I had a Cyrix P166 system long ago that cold boot win98lite in 17 secs... haven't seen a system with windows cold boot that fast since. I've seen different Linux systems cold boot in approximately 30 secs using much slower hardware than this demo. <br><br>Good point by those that recognize that this demo does not represent a typical users system hardware or software configuration.

      As far as impressive cold boot times, there was a Chinese netbook that could cold boot in 3 secs to the desktop, not login prompt.
  • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

    Yes, please. Although I will miss the days of going to lounge around the watercooler or coffee pot while the computer boots.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      @Cylon Centurion we may not miss those days. Organizations will install full disk encryption tools like PGP, DataArmor, etc which will still let us get a coffee before the PC boots :)
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      @Cylon Centurion "Thankfully", we have EDS running our network, so we have pleanty of opportunity to wait for things to happen.
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      @Cylon Centurion Hehe! At work our PCs take ages to start up. At home, I've recently installed an SSD as my OS/software drive. I press the button, stand up to get a drink(as is my habit) and then have to sit down immediately because the system is ready to go D=
  • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

    What will it be when you add the anti-malware and other crap-ware to it.

    Booting WINDOWS is not always the issue ... starting all the other crap that gets installed by OEM's and everyone else is.

    HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE A NORMAL USER to get to a machine without a spinning cursor.
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'


      My PCs now running MSE boot nearly instantly. Rarely do legit "non essential" programs try to run at startup anymore.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • @BrentRBrian .. sounds most likely

      that your issues are due, in no small part, to your ignorance of the possibilities / options rather than something you'd have others believe are somehow 'uncontrollable' for Windows users.<br><br>Disabling non-essential services and applications from auto-starting with Windows can be a big help in reducing boot / startup times. You could try msconfig and/or some 3rd party system utility as trivial and lightweight (in and of itself) like <i>Autoruns</i>. <br><br>If you find you're still having major issues with boot response times, you really ought to research and get some self-help going - instead of trying to pin the blame for all your shortcomings on the OS.
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'


      I have antivirus and malware protection on my Win 7 machine and it starts up fast.
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      That's what no one mentioned in the article. Are they booting a system with just Windows and no other software installed or are they using a brand name with all the standard BS crapware that comes with it? I would venture to say that if it's the latter then boot up time will probably be about the same.
      • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'


        You're an idiot man. I bet you're using Windows right now. You just want to try to act cool by bashing a product that is still in milestone. Grow up.
      • Not all are brdened

        @SElizDav <br>The last 3 OEM pcs I bought all came WITHOUT the stuff called crapwre or OEM unique ware.<br>Dell via EPP<br>AW via<br>ASUS UL via Amazon.....<br><br>Most EPP programs i have usef allow the "no bundled" option.<br><br><img border="0" src="" alt="wink">
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      FYI - Windows 8 comes with Windows Defender activated by default, which includes anti-virus and anti-malware capabilities beyond both Windows Defender for prior Windows versions and Microsoft Security Essentials (also for prior versions of Windows), so that is already starting when Windows loads. As far as other software that is installed, it depends on what the software is loading in the background at startup time.
      On my development machine, which includes IIS installed, screen capture tools, Backup software (Crash Plan runs in the background all the time), Dropbox, Evernote, Adobe software (which has updaters that run periodically), and other items I'm sure. My machine takes only 26 seconds to get to the login screen (including ~10 seconds for the BIOS to post and start the OS) , and then I can get to my desktop as quickly as I can log in from there.
  • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

    OS X and Linux starts much faster than that, so Windows 8 will finally catch up with them...
    • RE: Windows 8 to feature 'fast startup mode'

      @shellcodes_coder OSX does start faster, but not LINUX (Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint). I have loaded all of them on similar configuration. A loaded Windows 7 is faster or at least boots at the same speed as any of those LINUX systems. One certain advantage LINUX bring to the table is, you never need to restart (though OSX need restarts are differt points in time).