Microsoft demos fast boot times in Windows 8

By on September 9, 2011, 1:00 PM

If you think your highly-optimized Windows 7 machine running multiple SSDs in RAID0 boots fast, think again. Microsoft has published a new write-up and video on their Building Windows 8 blog that is sure to put today’s fastest booting systems to shame.

Most people associate a fast-booting OS with a high-performance machine, and this is often an accurate assumption. But even the fastest machines I’ve worked with still take 25-30 seconds to boot into Windows. This is fast by today’s standards, but not good enough for Microsoft’s next-gen OS.

There are alternatives to a full system shutdown such as hibernation and sleep/resume but according to Microsoft, 57 percent of desktop users and 45 percent of notebook users prefer to shut their systems down rather than putting them to sleep. Reasons for a full shutdown include zero power draw and a fresh start when the user comes back for their next session.

Microsoft has been working hard on Window 8’s boot process in order to accomplish three main goals: zero watt power draw when off, a fresh session after boot and very fast times between pressing the power button and being able to use the computer.

In a traditional shutdown, the operating system closes all of the user sessions. In the kernel session, services and devices are closed to prepare for a complete shutdown. This means that during the next boot, the system will have to perform a full initialization.

In Windows 8, user sessions are still closed but the kernel session is put into hibernation. Hibernation is described as effectively saving the system state and memory contents to a file on disk and reading it back when the system is resumed. Microsoft says this method results in 30 to 70 percent faster boot times on systems they have tested.

As you can imagine, using a solid state drive will significantly reduce kernel hibernation write and read times. Furthermore, Microsoft also added a new multi-phase resume capability which uses all of the cores in a multi-core system in parallel to quickly restore the kernel.

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