Microsoft is determined to alter the boot experience with Windows 8. This week, the software powerhouse outlined several goals for the evolution attempt – one the company itself believes is long overdue – at the Building Windows 8 blog.
Prefacing the breakdown, Windows Live president Steven Sinofsky noted that the important function is often derided by users. “Boot is the sort of effort that gets no respect,” he lamented. “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.”
Even Bill Gates shared the sentiment. Paraphrasing the Microsoft founder, Sinofsky related that years ago Gates referred to boot as “a one-line function call that computes a constant yet takes forever.”
Sinofsky explained the next boot model will “take advantage of some new technology and revisit some old assumptions.” Microsoft’s aim is to make boot more seamless, rethink touch-first support and offer quicker, easier access for both average and advanced users.
“The boot experience has not been thoroughly revamped, well, ever,” said Billie Sue Chaffins, Windows program manager. “The BIOS menus have been stuck in time for nearly 30 years while OSes and hardware have advanced at a logarithmic pace.”
Ironically, Chaffins wants customers to use boot as little as possible with Windows 8:
Boot is a highly visible portion of the system – users see it on average 1-2 times per day. That’s already too much, but this post is not about making reboots go away. We recognize that this number will change as slates and devices that are always on become more prevalent, but for those times when you may still need to boot, we want it to be fast and fluid. The experience of booting a PC should be approachable to mainstream consumers while maintaining the power of Windows for more advanced users who want to configure settings in the pre-OS environment. As you can imagine, satisfying all of these goals was challenging and in many situations, a balancing act.
Chaffins believes every Windows 8 boot should be “seamless and beautiful.” To accomplish that, she confirmed the new OS will offer a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Users can also stick with the old-school BIOS interface, but they’ll miss out on some new bells and whistles.
“UEFI systems can render rich graphical experiences in native resolution via the Graphic Output Protocol (GOP) driver,” wrote Chaffins, adding “it also enables a seamless visual experience from the time you hit the power button.”
Chaffins also confirmed that dual-boot will make its way directly into Windows 8’s UI: “Instead of remembering bcdedit commands, or changing settings in msconfig (though these options are still available), you can easily configure the default OS and timer settings right within the boot UI.”
Lastly, the program manager announced the end of the “Blue Screen of Death” – sort of. Windows 8 will replace the dreaded error report with a sad face emoticon, followed by a short and sweet message: “Your PC ran into a problem that it couldn’t handle, and now it needs to restart.”
“Unfortunately, things may go wrong with hardware from time to time, so there was no way to completely rid the world of the ‘BSOD,'” said Chaffins. “One thing you’ll notice is that in spite of all the changes, we did decide to keep it blue.”
Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. (via Building Window 8)