Microsoft Video Demonstrates Windows 8's Crazy Fast Boot Time

Paul Lilly

Maybe you shut down your work PC at the end of each day but leave your home machine running 24/7, only shutting down during lightning storms and other rare occasions. Regardless of how you approach shutting down and starting up, Microsoft is making efforts to ensure that when you do perform a cold boot in Windows 8, you'll be up and running faster than ever before.

"Few operations in Windows are as scrutinized, measured, and picked apart as boot. This is understandable — boot times represent an effective proxy for overall system performance and we all know the boot experience is an incredibly important thing for us to get right for customers," Microsoft explains in a blog post . "Data shows that 57 percent of desktop PC users and 45 percent of laptop users shut down their machines rather than putting them to sleep. Overall, half of all of users shut down their machines rather than putting them to sleep."

Those stats aren't geared towards towards power users, but it doesn't matter because Microsoft will have achieved something significant if Windows 8 boots up as fast as it does in this video:

The video above sits on the extreme end of the fast boot-up spectrum, but in general, Microsoft says it's seeing 30-70 percent faster startup times on most systems it's tested. And you won't necessarily need a solid state drive to see improved performance.

"This new fast startup mode will yield benefits on almost all systems, whether they have a spinning HDD or a solid state drive, but for newer systems with fast SSDs it is downright amazing," Microsoft says.

There are some things to note with how Windows 8 handles the shutdown command. The reason startup is so much faster in Windows 8 is because you're not shutting down your system the same way as you're used to doing in Windows 7. You still punch the shutdown button in Windows and the user sessions are all closed just like in Windows 7, but in Windows 8, the kernel session is hibernated. This isn't the same as a full hibernate, which includes a ton of memory pages in use by apps, though it does save the system state and memory contents to the hiberfil.sys file. Therein lies the trick to fast boot ups, and according to Microsoft, the hiberfil.sys file is roughly 10-15 percent the size of your physical RAM, compared to the default size of 75 percent.

For those times when you might need an old school shutdown, like when you're getting ready to upgrade hardware, you'll have that option in the UI as well, or you can use the new /full switch on shutdown.exe ( shutdown /s /full / t 0 from a command prompt for an immediate full shutdown).

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