Microsoft detailed the engineering process on Tuesday of speeding up the Windows 8 boot experience.
Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft Windows and Windows Live, explained that “boot is the sort of effort that gets no respect,” in a blog post on Tuesday. “It is either too long or all the work to make it nice and pleasant hopefully goes unnoticed since you never want to boot your machine,” he added. Sinofsky goes on to recall a meeting with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates where Gates joked that the boot process is a one-line function call that computes a constant yet takes forever. Sinofsky says that in building Windows 8, Microsoft set out to take advantage of the latest advances in technology to “totally rethink” the boot experience. “We also wanted to make it more accessible and better suited to devices without keyboards,” he says.
Microsoft’s work on the Windows 8 boot sequence sees them leveraging the capabilities of UEFI. “our goal is for the PC to power up to the manufacturer’s logo and stay on that screen all the way from POST to Windows logon UI, explains Billie Sue Chafins, a program manager on the user interface design team of Windows. “We are bridging two experiences (firmware + operating system) to deliver one experience.” The result is an impressive improvement in boot experience and time (see our hands on video). Microsoft hasn’t stopped there though.
The company has also improved the experience of dual booting two operating systems. Users with multiple copies of Windows will be presented with a high-fidelity, immersive and touchable user interface. Microsoft has focused on touch support outside the core operating system. This includes some of the advanced options and troubleshooting features outside of Windows 8. Windows Recovery Environment (RE) now supports a soft onscreen keyboard for touch devices without a physical keyboard.
Microsoft also briefly touches on the newly designed Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) inside Windows 8. “Things may go wrong with hardware from time to time, so there was no way to completely rid the world of the BSOD”, admits Chafins. “We worked through several design iterations to determine how much information to display. We wanted to meet the needs of power users (whether you’re troubleshooting your machine or a family member’s) and at the same time, make it less scary for the consumer.”