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Windows 7 metrics show most power transitions are cold boots (green) with power-consuming sleeps (blue) in second place. A few people use hibernate (fuschia) as an alternative to sleep, but this uses a great deal of storage.  (Source: MSDN/Microsoft)

Boot Times on Windows 8 (dark blue) are across the board faster than boot times in Windows 7 (light blue), with the difference esp. noticeable in Windows 7 "worst case" scenarios.  (Source: MSDN/Microsoft)

Emily Wilson, program manager of the Windows 8 Kernel Group shows fast-booting Windows 8.  (Source: MSDN/Microsoft)
New tech caches the kernel and device drivers only, allowing much faster boots w/out much storage

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has come up with a pretty slick solution for Windows 8, its upcoming operating system, which is set to launch in late 2012.  The company realized that many Windows 7 customers (45 percent on the laptop, 57 percent on the desktop) prefer to do a full shutdown between each use.  But wakeup times from full shutdown in Windows have traditional slow.  

A small percentage of people hibernate their machines, which promises faster startup speeds, but requires storage space equivalent to the footprint in memory of your running applications (often 4 GB).

So what Microsoft devised was a hybrid method faster startups -- this time only storing information from the system kernel and the device drivers.  The result is a much faster boot that still provides the power savings of cold boots and hibernation, but without the large amount of storage (often 4 GB or more) needed to store a complete image of all running programs.  Microsoft estimates the average cold boot will be 30 to 70 percent faster using the technology.

Microsoft describes the steps to the shutdown side of this process in a blog post, writing:
  1. The user initiates a shutdown by selecting “shut down” from the Start menu, or by pressing the power button; or an application initiates shutdown by calling an API such as ExitWindowsEx() or InitiateShutdown().
  2. Windows broadcasts messages to running applications, giving them a chance to save data and settings. Applications can also request a little extra time to finish what they’re doing.
  3. Windows closes the user sessions for each logged on user.
  4. Windows sends messages to services notifying them that a shutdown has begun, and subsequently shuts them down. It shuts down ordered services that have a dependency serially, and the rest in parallel. If a service doesn’t respond, it is shut down forcefully. ‪‬
  5. Windows broadcasts messages to devices, signaling them to shut down. ‪‬
  6. Windows closes the system session (also known as “session 0”).
  7. Windows flushes any pending data to the system drive to ensure it is saved completely.
  8. Windows sends a signal via the ACPI interface to the system to power down the PC.
The hybrid boot system pairs with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) -- Microsoft's new replacement to the aged BIOS system -- for ultra-fast boot times, even from near-full sleeps.

Don't like the hybrid boot and want to do a traditional cold boot?  Microsoft has made this easy enough for power users.  They can do a traditional cold boot by typing "shutdown /full" from the command line.  This allows drivers installers and other programs that require a complete cold boot to still work properly.

Microsoft has a video of the tech in action here on YouTube.  The company promises demos at its upcoming BUILD Conference in Anaheim, Calif., which begins on Sept. 13 and runs parallel to Intel Corp.'s (INTC) Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, Calif.

Last month Microsoft showed off improved file management in a similar video.  Earlier shots off the new ribbon-based Windows Explorer leaked via iconic Windows bloggers Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera 

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By B3an on 9/10/2011 12:41:33 AM , Rating: 5
The article kind of makes it sound like this only works with EMFI and not BIOS. But it works with either.

And this is big news, apparently most users care about boot times more than anything else when it comes to OS features, even from MS's own experience. Now Win 8 literally boots in 1 - 2 seconds on a SSD as seen in the vid (the remaining 6 seconds are the EMFI posting). Even on a slow HDD it should still easily be well under 10 seconds. You cant really get any better than that.

And everywhere i see this posted people keep thinking it's just Sleep or Hibernate. It's not. Sleep requires constant power. And as you can see in the vid the laptops battery is removed, so this is a full shutdown with no power usage at all. And Hibernate saves all settings and the user session to disk. This new boot does not. Only the kernel is saved to disk, making for a small file which is quickly loaded on boot. Booting using this mode is almost the same as the usual cold boot only vastly faster. I think this is about as good and as fast as a OS could possibly be booted on todays technology.

It's also faster than any other major OS boots, even phone OS's. People have to give credit to MS here, they've done a good job.

RE: Facts
By drycrust3 on 9/10/2011 6:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
The article kind of makes it sound like this only works with EMFI and not BIOS. But it works with either.

My understanding is the slow boot times are BIOS related, so for this to work then Windows 8 has to re-write the BIOS because that is the first thing the CPU looks for when it is turned on.
There are various projects around to replace BIOS, but the main problem is that the BIOS is very much hardware dependent, so what works well on one PC would stuff up another one. In fact, there is no guarantee that the BIOS in one notebook or PC is the same as the identical model one next to it in the shop. You need to know specifically what motherboard is used. It is pretty much guaranteed that an error in the BIOS stuffs up your computer permanently. Hence, the best way to get fast boot times is for the manufacturer to design the computer so it doesn't have BIOS at all.

RE: Facts
By B3an on 9/10/2011 10:43:33 PM , Rating: 3
The BIOS is not related at all to the actual loading of Windows. And Win 8 certainly never would re-write/flash a BIOS, that could potentially break SO many computers.
But the POST screen (first screen you see) belongs to the BIOS, and this can take a while before it disappears. However once POST is complete then the actual loading of Win 8 is vastly faster, whether this is with EMFI or BIOS it dont matter.
Being as the loading of Windows is the part that usaully takes the longest on most systems then booting will be much quicker. POST times are not really an issue anyway as many new motherboards and laptops have EMFI now instead of BIOS, and most EMFI will post within about 5 seconds.

RE: Facts
By mindless1 on 9/11/2011 3:47:36 PM , Rating: 1
Good job to tailor to people's actions, but bad job to not always hibernate when a user clicks shutdown unless a flag is set signalling the OS really needs to do a full boot.

What sense is there in not hibernating with daily use? What sense not having the user environment saved when you're just going to reload these things anyway? Boot time isn't really faster when you then add on the time it takes to reload all the apps you'll use, webpages, etc, versus hibernating.

RE: Facts
By bah12 on 9/12/2011 1:14:36 PM , Rating: 2
You can still do this if you choose. Personally I don't leave much at all up on my desktop when not in use, so hibernate has never been all that attractive to me. However this would be very helpful for those random entire PC WOW crashes and I need to get back in the game ASAP.

RE: Facts
By mindless1 on 9/15/2011 6:22:21 PM , Rating: 2
I would find it more useful to be able to click to create a "boot point" image, somewhat like hibernating that it restores what is in memory, but one that you can create at any point, for example once you had finished booting and loading apps, webpages and directory windows open, etc...

That way, if you made the boot point prior to running WOW for example, you'd be able to get right back to the environment you wanted to load WOW immediately, AND you wouldn't have to save everything to memory every time you hibernated if you chose not to, the system would just turn off like a light bulb.

Ironically this type of feature would be VERY easy for MS to implement, all the underlying routines are there, it's just a matter of a call to initiate it and a power-off command without repeating it.

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