Measuring the seconds required to start a computer may seem like the most trivial of concerns, but it is nonetheless a concern shared by many users. Even Microsoft has pledged to do its part in the next version of its operating system, saying that “a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds” and surveying users to see if a limited-functionality but nearly instantly accessible interface would be of any use to them.

Motherboard maker ASRock has also been experimenting with ways to speed up startup times on a Windows machine, and apparently came up with a way to get a clean boot of Vista running in a mere three to four seconds. The new technology, known as Instant Boot, uses the S3 and S4 states of the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) which normally enable the Sleep and Hibernation modes in Windows. However, by calling them at different times in the boot-up and shutdown process, the new feature enables Windows to instantly pop on the next time you hit the power button even after a proper shut down.

There is one major caveat, though. Instant Boot will only work on computers that have only one user account and no password protection – a deal breaker in my opinion. The feature can be enabled on five of ASRock’s current boards and you can grab the appropriate BIOS updates from here. Also, check out the amusingly nerdy video demonstrating Instant boot, after the jump.