Windows 8 removes need for 'F8' key, advanced boot menu redesigned

By on May 23, 2012, 3:00 PM

On Microsoft's MSDN blog, the company has revealed in great detail some of the changes we can expect to see to boot options inherent in Windows 8. Most notably, gone are the days of tapping F8 repeatedly. Also gone is the classic, keyboard-driven advanced options menu that has delivered us all to Safe Mode at some point or another and in its stead is a straight-forward, redesigned GUI.

Windows 8 boots fast. Really fast. On a modern system, it boots so quickly there simply isn't time for a keystroke interrupt -- such an interrupt would normally allow users to invoke a fail-safe menu by tapping F8. Of course, this is particularly worrisome for users who find themselves needing to boot into Safe Mode or may otherwise be experiencing issues.

Microsoft engineers decided to tackle this issue utilizing a multi-pronged solution. Their new approach gives users access to advanced startup options, but without all that rapid F8 tapping nonsense.

Firstly, if Windows 8 detects a serious error, it will interrupt the boot process automatically and display advanced boot options. This is not unlike what Windows does already. Secondly, the menu can be explicitly called upon (even automatically) via your computer's UEFI firmware. The third and final option is invoking the menu through Windows itself. One such method is done by booting into Windows 8 and holding shift while clicking restart. Alternatively, you can navigate the Start Menu options for it.

Along with changing the advanced boot menu's behavior, Microsoft has redesigned the menu entirely. These advanced options will now include everything a user might expect in a sensible GUI, including quick access to System Restore, System Image Recovery, command prompt and Windows 8 startup settings.

I must admit, when I first stumbled upon this article I was waiting for a "hold this key during boot" solution similar to Apple computers. Seems like an obvious enough fix, right? However, Microsoft chose not to do it this. As a result, it appears the only way to boot into Safe Mode and so on will be to either configure your UEFI firmware to display those advanced boot options or load up into Windows 8 first, tell Windows you want to reboot into the advanced boot options menu and restart the computer.

Personally, I find not being able to invoke the menu with a key during boot cumbersome. Microsoft makes a decent point though: they chose not to do this because Windows 8 will also appear on touchscreen devices that have no physical keyboard. What do you think?




User Comments: 34

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amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Windows8 will be an OS most people and business's skip but features like this are a good sign.

Most PC makers build images into thier PC's now but I am glad Microsoft is also addressing it.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I must admit, when I first stumbled upon this article I was waiting for a "hold this key during boot" solution similar to Apple computers. Seems like an obvious enough fix, right? However, Microsoft chose not to do it this.

No doubt they were expecting a lawsuit from Apple if they implemented this

psycros psycros said:

More proof that Microsoft has lost it. Name one task in Windows 8 that's <b>easier</b> to do than in Windows 7. You can't. Win8 is about one thing: keeping you stuck in their interactive sales brochure called Metro which will undoubtedly be displaying ads and collecting demographic data non-stop. And it will require a reg hack to disable. Windows Metro 2012 should have been its own product or at least an <b>optional</b> shell. THEN we'd see for certain how popular it is, LOL! Microsoft is handing the future to Google and Apple on a silver platter.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

<p>

<p>No doubt they were expecting a lawsuit from Apple if they implemented this </p>

As sad as that is, it is probably the truth.

Guest said:

"Name one task in Windows 8 that's easier to do than in Windows 7."

Well, in windows 8 under "classic desktop" level, right click the lower left hotcorner and get a bunch of most used settings/device manager/task manager/control panel/etc

under "metro menu" level, literally start typing for a certain filename, foldername or app and it brings up an indexed list

under any win8 level, upper top left hotcorner allows you to view running apps between both classic and metro levels and ifg you right click, can choose to snap or close the app

Win8 boots insanely fast from complete poweroff (tested on my same laptop between win7 an win8)

Native USB 3.0 support (makes my ext usb3 sata dock copy files faster

Speaking of copying between folders, integrated "download manager" style multicopy , combines all copy operations under a single interface instead of separate copy dialog sessions

You can peek here for more:

[link]

couple cool things:

  • disk imaging software still seems to work with win8 (used Acronis Seagate freeware to clone win8 to my other laptop with no compatibility issue)
  • I popped in jazz jackrabbit2 (a win95 era game circa 1994 more than 18 yrs ago) and it ran flawlessly on win8.
  • Can't wait til they make a universal joystick touch overlay and touch enable old classic win9x and later games.

BTW guys this is serious, ever seen the preview for "prometheus" or Matrix revolutions. Pretty wicked future computers. One thing I noticed, their computer interfaces didn't have a "start" button. Am I "missing" something?

Guest said:

"BTW guys this is serious, ever seen the preview for "prometheus" or Matrix revolutions. Pretty wicked future computers. One thing I noticed, their computer interfaces didn't have a "start" button. Am I "missing" something?"

Yes you are missing something my friend. Why you think just because you seen something in a movie makes it better or is defining the future is beyond me. Don't get me wrong, I liked the Matrix movies and Prometheus looks pretty damn cool but I also know they are just entertainment.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

A lot of people seems to be quite negative with respect to Windows 8, I really don't see a reason for that after having used it for a month or so. I think for desktops Win8 won't make a big difference compared to Win7, but I'm running Win8 on a MacBook Air and it's a big step forward in some of the basics of an operating system. OS-X is very smooth - just open/close the lid and it's ready almost instantly. The perfect solution for me would be the smoothness of OS-X on a Windows system. Then I thought, why not try Win8 on the Air and see how well that works.

These are my experiences running Win8 on a MacBook Air:

- Startup from standby is almost instant, press the space bar, enter password. You're logged on as fast as you can type. Windows 7 was much slower and not as consistent in this regard.

- When leaving the computer for a longer period of time it boots from a no power state (and saves battery). This boot is so much faster than on Win7 (10-15 sec). This is important since no one wants to wait for a computer booting and it's as though it was always on. Now I never hesitate to open the computer just to check something quickly (like on OS-X).

- One of the most noticeable improvements in day to day use is the Wireless network reconnect. Win7 it always took quite a while to log on and often had some problem reconnecting. In Win8 it's instant - ready faster than you can type your password and it always seem to work.

- I'm not a particular fan of Metro, but it's a small price to pay to keep the operating system from fracturing into different version for touch/desktop, particularly since you basically never see it. Working with it day to day you only see the Metro desktop when you press the Windows button and from a complete cold boot, otherwise the desktop is as it always was and that's were you are when you open the computer.

- Shut down - why did we always have that frustrating wait for a shutdown? It seems be to gone in Win8 somehow (maybe because you never have to do a power off now).

- After a couple of hours of work you still have 6-7 hours of work time on a battery charge. That's mostly to do with the good batteries in the Air, but Win8 seems more power frugal than Win7.

- Dual finger scroll and side scroll works well with Bootcamp on Win8 - that's a must (although not quite as smoothly as on OS-X).

- The negatives... Still runs high on processor power for a while (5-10 min) after some of the major updates have been installed. Minor issue.

Overall it has been a must better experience than I had expected and it was good enough for me to go back to a default Windows boot. At this point I would never consider going back to Win7 on a laptop (on the desktop either will be fine). So I would say to people concerned about Metro and Win8, don't be.

Guest said:

"What do you think?"

I think that the decision making / marketing team need to ask the general public user base who use their OS on a "Desktop" what they think and not collect construed data saying that this is what ppl want..

So the OS is being designed mroe adn more for touch screen mobile devices features, functionality, easue of use is all centred around mobile use, while the "Desktop" crow who have been dismissed as whiners or plebs are ignored.

Great decision making like this, will be recorded in years to come as one the top 10 biggest blunders of a corporation, no wonders MS' share price has dropped by half in recent times.

Question: Why did MS not just make two variants of the OS' one for desktop users and one for mobile / touch screen users..

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Hmm.....

So a situation I've just recently had to go through on my Windows 7: --- "Startup, Anti-Virus not responding, system-wide lockup" -- would not have been so easily fixable if it had have been Win 8. The only fix that was present was to reboot into 'Safe Mode' and repair the AV installation, and because (it looks like) to do that on Win 8 you would need control on the system to force that option, that wouldn't have been possible. I wonder if simple program lockups can be detected alongside "Serious errors" for the boot options to auto-open?.....

But yeah, the idea seems fine, but the thought is lost for most things IMO. Thankfully it won't matter for me because I'm not getting it anyway...(y)

Guest said:

The major problem with Windows 8 is they have made a touch screen OS when most people still use a keyboard/mouse. Win 8 is much easier to use on a touch screen than with K/M input. Microsoft's mistake is they have been drinking the Apple cider, they are now forcing their way instead of providing choices. Why can't they simply have a K/M Classic GUI option and a touch screen Metro option? Linux is looking better each day...

1 person liked this | Guest said:

"because (it looks like) to do that on Win 8 you would need control on the system to force that option, that wouldn't have been possible."

When you reboot/turn on a windows 8 PC, hold the Shift button and mash the F8 key (when done properly) this will boot you into the new advanced "recovery mode"

from here go to , where you can choose "See advanced repair options"> select troubleshoot>select advance options>select windows startup settings, from here you can choose enable safe mode.

[link]

But win8 will have built-in antivirus anyway (called windows defender which is really MS security essentials). Add to that IE10 download smartfilters, and attack vectors are even smaller OOTB.

Guest said:

"Win 8 is much easier to use on a touch screen than with K/M input"

Have you USED the win8 preview yet? I'm running it now. metro only comes up when I call it. Win8 is more like a "dual OS" system, you have metro which is for touch apps/pseudo start menu items, and you have classic desktop for classic apps.

Once I go into classic mode, I pretty much can stay there all day until I call up metro to launch a program. When I click on a classic x86 app under metro, it launches it and brings me back immediately to classic desktop.

And here's the cool thing guys, while in classic desktop under windows 8, if you either:

  • click the windows key button "twice"

  • hover over the lower left corner and click twice, this allows you to quickly "peek" into the metro menu and go right back to classic desktop.

I'm loving win8CP preview so far, there's so many new shortcuts I've learned playing with it, and makes me at least, more productive. I can even snap classic desktop apps and metro apps side by side (well 3/4 screen for one of the apps anyway)

Guest said:

" the general public user base who use their OS on a "Desktop" what they think"

Problem is the public user base doesn't know what the future UI would possibly look like. Should we, after 500more yrs of computer evolution, STILL have a start button win95 menu interface?

When exactly can we evolve from the 90's menu system? We have to start somewhere. Win8 is a good rough version 1.0 start. It will certainly get better over time. 5yrs from now, people will forget all about the missing start button.

1 person liked this | Jibberish18 said:

You know, usually unlike most people I know, I'm more than willing to jump in and start using a new OS. I know I may not be use to it but soon I'll learn and it'll be all well again. But not this time. I downloaded the preview and I have to say I just wasn't digging it. Yes the performance was better and boot times were good but I just wasn't sure about the direction it was going it. Sure it'll look AWESOME for a tablet but for the desktop I just didn't see a reason to jump ship from Windows 7. Then again I do like all of those tiles.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

If they would just incorporate swiping gestures into the mouse that would help the Metro interface out a lot. I don't like going to the bottom to get a scroll bar, or using the scroll wheel to move a Metro app like Weather. If I could just click and drag the screen (with the mouse), like you would on a tablet (with your finger), I would be happy.

Guest said:

Out come the astroturfing apologists. Ballmer has Windows and Microsoft headed down the drain in a grand attempt at "one-size-fits-all", betting the windows OS cash-cow on a mobile OS play.

The apologists can make points and arguments against the ordinary users who just wanted an improved and fixed Windows 7 successor, but in the end if Ballmer doesn't give us ordinary users what we need to get work done, we'll end up somewhere else.

Guest said:

Windows Failure 8 will turn Windows 7 into the new "XP" for the next 8 years or so.

Guest said:

After playing with the preview I'm torn really. I really do like Metro and think it has a lot of potential but like most people here I think that MS should not force it on us. This is a big change and they should ease people into it a little slower. I have a touchscreen monitor on the PC I installed Win8 on and it works well. It's smooth and flows nice, however I would envision a touchscreen monitor on my kitchen counter to look up recipes or stream a show while I'm cooking but I really don't want it on my desktop (I have enough trouble keeping my tablet screens clean!). Plus I typically use larger monitors and they sit at least arms distance from me, I really don't want to have to reach for a touchscreen to interact with the system (I know you can use the corners with the mouse or shortcuts but doing that feels like a work-around).

However, I REALLY like the IDEA that MS has with this. One unified OS across all my devices with cloud syncing etc. I have been waiting for this for a long time and nobody has done it successfully. Apple has come the closest with apps etc automatically being available on both my iPhone and iPad and only having to install it once. However, because I am in the corporate world I do not have the option to use Macs for business. I am hoping that by the time the 2nd gen Win8 tablets start coming around a lot of this will be worked out. I would be very happy with a Win8 phone, tablet, desktop and laptop all in sync without a lot of headache. Will it ever happen? Who knows, its a good vision if they can execute it..

1 person liked this | Guest said:

The level of moaning about Windows 8 is truely astonishing.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY OR INSTALL IT - Period.

The worst thing MS could do would be to fragment thier OS. We need one OS across every device. It is what will win out in the business arena and spill across into everywhere else.

The alternative would be Linux, Apple or Google and they are currently dire for anything other than Angry Birds.

I fail to see the problem with Win 8. It is a delight to use and very fast. The very thing we have all been demanding.

If you don't like it, stick with 7 or install Linux. Good luck with the latter, it's like being stuck in Hell.

djforeman djforeman said:

Setting it up in UEFI adds more time to the debug operation and is only available on NEW machines that have UEFI. Lots of us are still using BIOS-mode systems because we built them to be fast enough to last into the current generation of chips, like my quad-core 3.3 GhZ (over-clocked) system. A good hold-down (not quick-press) operation solves the problem of fast-boot, for those of us who might actually know what to do when we get to safe mode.

BTW, has anyone actually TRIED TO USE a vertical touch-screen on a desk? I HAVE ONE circa 1985 on my old IBM PS/2 running OS/2 and it is painful for real workflow - constantly reaching across the desk to get to the screen.

Guest said:

"YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY OR INSTALL IT - Period."

buy a new machine in Nov/Dec , yes you will :)

"I fail to see the problem with Win 8. It is a delight to use and very fast. The very thing we have all been demanding."

dont know anyone who demanded 2 operating systems super-glued together to make a disjointed and counter-intuitive touchscreen based system for the 90+% of users who dont have touchscreens

"If you don't like it, stick with 7 or install Linux. Good luck with the latter, it's like being stuck in Hell."

no, Vista was hell , the new Unity/Gnome shell interface is hell which is why I use Xfce now but with windows 8 Gnome Shell is suddenly looking more desirable.

seriously all they had to do was give an option to boot into the desktop by default and put the traditional start menu on the desktop interface, thats it the rest is here nor there , why is that so hard ?

Guest said:

I'm experiencing W8 Hell as I type this. I have a simple drive for the OS, a RAID 5 for virtual machines, and a simple drive for backup. I decided to change to RAID 1 for the OS (use spare space on the larger drive for backups), and RAID 0 for the virtual machines.

So, I rebooted and got rid of the (firmware) RAID 5 - reverting the drives to simple drives. I didn't touch my OS drive, yet. I figured W8 would simply ignore what was there before and let me boot into my OS on my simple drive so I could then go and make all the changes after login. NOT!

W8 essentially completely lost the plot and for the past 2 hours has decided it will fix the problem for me. I DO NOT WANT W8 to fix anything. I just want it to boot into the OS as it would have in past versions! I swear, I'm on the verge of a .com rage episode...

All that friggin't time, I could have completely reinstalled from scratch. SO, I put in my boot USB to do just that. I hit the reset button on the computer and...WTF?!?!...it skips reading the USB (ok, so I forgot to change the device boot order - my bad on that one), but off it goes into another FOREVER venture trying to fix my problem for me. Just gimme a friggin F8 key already!

After more time wasted (I suppose I enjoy pain?), it FINALLY gives me the Advanced Options menu. I scan it and YAY! there is the option for Safe Mode. I boot into Safe Mode, fix the disks, reboot and things are peachy. WTFrigginrigginwhowhatwhy didn't M$FT put Safe Mode someplace accessible very early on?!?

Ah, well. I needed to go through this nightmare because it is job-related learning experience, I suppose. Still, after playing around with this new Big Brother OS (FORGET about privacy, right?), I'll pass. I'm sticking with W7 until end-of-life.

I hate the new interface. I mean, really. It is simply the old desktop with super-sized buttons. Instead of being able to see all dozen or so apps and files and whatnot on my desktop, now I see a handful of super-sized icons and a WHOLE lotta marketing stuff I couldn't give a flying tihs about. Everything is more difficult, not easier. As others have posted, M$FT should/could have given us the option to disable Metro permanently. I hate it. Simply hate it.

Just IMO.

/rant over

Zoltan Head said:

My deepest sympathies, above Guest - I persisted with it for over

2 months before scrapping it (still have the nervous tic, though). (n)

2 people like this | Guest said:

Name one task in Windows 8 that's easier to do than in Windows 7.

Deciding that you don't need it ;-)

1 person liked this | Guest said:

"YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY OR INSTALL IT - Period."

Those words should live in Infamy. INFAMY!

You now have NO OPTION but to choose "Agree" if you want ANY MAJOR OEM system TO EVEN BOOT - PERIOD! They don't even let you have the chance to install a different system, access the UEFI Firmware, boot from USB devices--or even a swapped-out hard drive--or pretty much ANYTHING else until AFTER--you got it--A*F*T*E*R you agree to their usurious licenseS, plural--one for Microsoft and one for the OEM. Otherwise you own a GIANT, VERY EXPENSIVE PAPERWEIGHT.

Call me pastoral, backwards, ignorant--I don't care--but something about this seems very, very, VERY wrong in so many ways. Ethically, legally, democratically--and especially ergonomically, this arrangement is abhorrently perverse.

I want my interrupt keys back. Or similar--something I can do BEFORE the OS loader gets involved.

/rant

1 person liked this | Goldark Goldark said:

If you saying that every task in windows 8 is harder then in windows 7 it show that you didnt take the time to learn it cos your totally wrong most of stuff you do in windows 7 can be done the same way if you know how.

More proof that Microsoft has lost it. Name one task in Windows 8 that's <b>easier</b> to do than in Windows 7. You can't. Win8 is about one thing: keeping you stuck in their interactive sales brochure called Metro which will undoubtedly be displaying ads and collecting demographic data non-stop. And it will require a reg hack to disable. Windows Metro 2012 should have been its own product or at least an <b>optional</b> shell. THEN we'd see for certain how popular it is, LOL! Microsoft is handing the future to Google and Apple on a silver platter.

Zoltan Head said:

If you saying that every task in windows 8 is harder then in windows 7 it show that you didnt take the time to learn it cos your totally wrong most of stuff you do in windows 7 can be done the same way if you know how.

If you could do things the same way in Windows 7, why would you need to know how?

Pan Wah said:

If you saying that every task in windows 8 is harder then in windows 7 it show that you didnt take the time to learn it cos your totally wrong most of stuff you do in windows 7 can be done the same way if you know how.

I took time to learn it, thought "what the heck are M$ smoking", then restored the disk image of Windows 7 which (thank goodness) I made before downgrading upgrading.

Goldark Goldark said:

If you could do things the same way in Windows 7, why would you need to know how?

Your totally right guess I didnt explain with the right word as usual,let me say it again the right way xD.

What I wanted to say is that most of the stuff in windows 7 can be done in windows 8 and that half of it is actually easier in windows 8 actually if you know how.By example if you want to access the most used tools in windows 8 just need to go in the left corner then do a rigth click and youll see a quick access list to the commonly used tools.

I do agree that the métro interface isnt for everyone should have gave us the choice to go classic menu or métro.

JCitron JCitron said:

Your totally right guess I didnt explain with the right word as usual,let me say it again the right way xD.

What I wanted to say is that most of the stuff in windows 7 can be done in windows 8 and that half of it is actually easier in windows 8 actually if you know how.By example if you want to access the most used tools in windows 8 just need to go in the left corner then do a rigth click and youll see a quick access list to the commonly used tools.

I do agree that the métro interface isnt for everyone should have gave us the choice to go classic menu or métro.

That's why I installed the Classic 8 menu from source forge. At least when I'm in desktop mode, I can still access things the old way. I agree though things are much faster and easier too in Windows 8.

Like anything else, it'll take time for people to get used to something new.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

"Personally, I find not being able to invoke the menu with a key during boot cumbersome. Microsoft makes a decent point though: they chose not to do this because Windows 8 will also appear on touchscreen devices that have no physical keyboard. What do you think?"

Stinks. This is a consequence of One Size Fits All software. Would appear that MS is convenienced that the whole world is a cellphone or tablet. Someday - - but NOT in Win/8s life time.

Pan Wah said:

I agree though things are much faster and easier too in Windows 8.

Surely not - I "upgraded" and tried Windows 8 very thoroughly, it was slower and less productive, that's why I returned to Windows 7, and noticed an immediate improvement (I also use Open Suse and Snow Linux, Windows 7 is nearly as quick, Windows 8 just isn't :- that's all on the same hardware, multibooted). Now I keep Windows 8 in a Virtualbox, where it belongs!)

Guest said:

Need to easily select Safe *before* booting Windows

This is a step backwards, to have to first attempts and fail to boot Windows (with risks of malware integration, file system damage) before the system "knows" to offer boot options, or so you can set the next boot to boot into Safe Mode.

It should be easier to interrupt the boot process and select Safe or Safe Cmd, than "nuke the whole installation" or "refresh Windows and also blow away all my installed software".

Then again, MS doesn't "get" safety, or rather, compromises it for convenience. So we have a RAM tester that writes results of RAM defects to disk and then shows the log after booting Windows (all of which is done through the bad RAM). We also have a Safe Mode that runs whatever is integrated as "screen saver", e.g. while left unattended to do anti-malware scans.

I'm hoping the option to use the Windows 7 "legacy" boot menu will fix this - not because it's what I'm used to, or because I "don't want to learn anything new", but because I want access to non-destructive troubleshooting with a minimum of collateral damage.

Guest said:

1. We had an issue where once we got into a tablet's menus, we couldn't factory reset it. This was solved by plugging a USB mouse in. Apparently sometimes the recovery menu doesn't have the drivers installed. Awesome! Support couldn't figure it out for awhile, so it's a relatively obscure issue, although we're sure it happened with another device (we had an extra mouse plugged in, but it was a composite keyboard driver). We were shipped a replacement device in that instance.

2. Start menus, etc. ARE the way of the past. Just like everyone that's been using "classic desktop" and other "classic" features of Windows for years, you're behind. Linux, OS X, and Windows itself are moving beyond the ways of Windows NT/2000, and now XP too. In 5 years everyone will insist that Start menus are dumb and anyone that still has one on their computer is "running an old hunk of junk that's too archaic to even understand".

2.1 Honestly, I moved from XP to OS X because it was getting behind. When 7 came out, I loved it and went back. I press "Windows Key" then type out what I want, then press enter. The Start menu is just a waste of space that I accidentally click into and wander around for a while before realizing to go back and search what I want.

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