Reengineering the Windows Boot Experience

Steven Sinofsky has updated the Windows 8 Blog with some new detailed information on the boot and shutdown of the new Windows 8 operating system. They are thoroughly updating the boot experience to the 21st century instead of the bland, age old text based boot process.

Windows 8 will also enter the market in a time when the industry is shifting to the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) for BIOS on all new client systems. We will continue to support the legacy BIOS interface, but machines using the UEFI interface will have significantly richer capabilities. For instance, UEFI systems can render rich graphical experiences in native resolution via the Graphic Output Protocol (GOP) driver. With UEFI, the OS can finally communicate with boot firmware in a standard way; this work is strongly supported by standards work in UEFI and the TCG (Trusted Computing Group). This enables such features as secure boot, where the OS and firmware cooperate in creating a secure handoff mechanism. It also enables a seamless visual experience from the time you hit the power button – one experience owned by two distinct components.

The boot experience has not been thoroughly revamped, well, ever. The BIOS menus have been stuck in time for nearly 30 years while OSes and hardware have advanced at a logarithmic pace. We’ve introduced many features of the pre-OS environment over several releases of Windows, each designed with a different set of capabilities and limitations. For instance, due to the lack of full graphics capabilities, the Multi-OS and Advanced Boot Options menus displayed by the boot manager shown below appear as if they were from the MS-DOS era:

Advanced Boot Options menu in the Boot Manager, with options to Repair Your Computer, launch in Safe Mode, etc.