Windows 8 puts end to endless reboots
OS kicks out to recovery tools after second boot failure
Computerworld - Microsoft yesterday promised that a feature it's added to Windows 8 will put a stop to endless reboots.
Unlike earlier versions, Windows 8 will automatically call up a new menu with repair and recovery options when the software sniffs out problems getting the machine to boot or the OS to load properly.
In a post to the Building Windows 8 blog Tuesday, Chris Clark, a program manager with the user Experience team, described new tools embedded in the operating system designed to step in when a PC reboots more than twice because of problems.
Although Clark couched the changes as necessary because of increasingly-fast boot times -- meaning users are often unable to interrupt the process with traditional key presses like F2 or F8 -- one side effect is that endless reboots should be a thing of the past.
The problem has plagued Windows at times.
In 2008, an update to prep machines for the release of Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) crippled PCs when it sent them into an endless cycle of rebooting.
The same trouble resurfaced in late 2009 as users tried to upgrade to the then-new Windows 7 from Vista, and again in 2010 when a Microsoft security update conflicted with rootkit-infected Windows XP PCs.
Windows 8, however, features what Clark called "automatic failover," which loads a new boot options menu "when there is no way to successfully complete Windows startup." From the boot menu, users can select the operating system's repair or restoration tools to try to find and fix the underlying problem.
"This automatic failover behavior will take you directly to the boot options menu whenever there is a problem that would otherwise keep your PC from loading Windows," said Clark. "This even includes cases where it appears (to Windows) that boot has succeeded, but in actuality the PC is unusable."
Windows 8 also takes other boot-related actions. An unsuccessful core boot sequence triggers an automatic retry. If a second attempt fails, then the machine automatically loads Windows Recovery Environment (RE), the diagnostic and recovery toolset that's been bundled since Vista.
Because the failover kicks in after Windows 8 detects two consecutive reboots, theoretically the new OS should be immune to the endless rebooting that has dogged XP, Vista and Windows 7
Along with addressing endless reboots, the new boot options in Windows 8 let users initiate a restart that doesn't rely on a key press during the reboot process, eliminating the need to interrupt the reboot at just the right time.
As Clark explained, Windows 8 -- following in the footsteps of Windows 7 -- has such short boot times that it's essentially impossible to press a pause key such as F2 or F8 before the process moves on.
Windows 8 boot times are something that Microsoft has already hawked. Last September, when the company debuted the Developer Preview. According to the company's test, Windows 8 boots between 30% and 70% faster than earlier versions.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- China calls the iPhone and iOS 7 threats to national security
- Russian Windows leaker denies link to ex-Microsoft worker who stole trade secrets
- Patch alert: Update browsers' Flash ASAP to block log-on theft
- Microsoft slates critical IE, Windows patches for Tuesday
- Windows 8 uptake sags, flirts with flop
- Update: Skype to retire recent editions for Windows, Mac; upgrades mandatory
- The enterprise PC: Not quite dead yet
- Microsoft strips some Windows 7 users of IE11 patch privileges
- Microsoft withholds monster IE update from Windows 8.1 dawdlers
- XPocalypse, not now
Read more about Windows in Computerworld's Windows Topic Center.
- Microsoft Private Cloud--Making it Real Cloud computing is happening. It is being driven by the exponential growth in modern applications, data and devices. These trends require organizations to...
- A Strategy for moving IT into the era of cloud computing In the Dell point of view, the cloud represents both the natural evolution of the data center and the future of IT service...
- Don't ignore Windows Server 2003 End of Support until it' too late! Today's business environments are very different to those of 10 years ago. Windows Server 2003 has been a trusted friend for over a...
- 5 PC Hardware Innovations that Pay Off for Business Refresh cycles have been extended for many companies over the last few years. Just because a PC still works, doesn't mean it's providing...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed in recent years, and it continues to escalate. All Windows White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!