Microsoft revealed another new feature of Windows 8 on Thursday.
The software giant has been working hard to improve boot times in Windows 8. Boot times is a fundamental metric that is widely discussed for Windows systems. “Few operations in Windows are as scrutinized, measured, and picked apart as boot,” admits Microsoft’s Gabe Aul in a blog post on Thursday. “We all know the boot experience is an incredibly important thing for us to get right for customers.”
Microsoft says that 57% of desktop PC users and 45% of laptop users shut down their machines instead of putting them to sleep. The company has found that most people shut down their machines as they like to use no power when they are sitting idle. Microsoft’s challenge was to design a Windows 8 boot that had a zero watt power draw when off, created a new session at boot and includes fast boot times when pressing a power button on the PC. ”In Windows 7 we made many improvements to the boot path, including parallel initialization of device drivers, and trigger-start services, but it was clear we’d have to get even more creative (and less incremental) if we hoped to get boot performance anywhere close to fast enough to meet all of these needs,” admits Aul.
Microsoft has designed its Windows 8 shutdown to close user sessions but hibernate the kernel session. This reduces the amount of data that hibernation mode needs to write to disk, making it faster to read and resume. Microsoft has tested the feature across a variety of systems and claims it’s 30-70% faster on most systems they have tested. “It’s faster because resuming the hibernated system session is comparatively less work than doing a full system initialization,” explains Aul.
The new startup mode will benefit HDD or SSD systems but Aul admits that with SSDs “it is downright amazing.” Microsoft demonstrates the feature using a system with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Microsoft has also built an option in the UI to revert to the standard Windows 7 shutdown/cold boot behaviour.
Microsoft will unveil Windows 8 to the world next week during its BUILD conference. If you’re interested to know what has been revealed so far checkout our “Windows 8: What we know so far” article that includes all the latest confirmed and leaked Windows 8 news.