Building Windows 8: Fast boot times with "hybrid boot"

In today's installment on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft described the new "hybrid" boot mode that will be included in Windows 8. According to Microsoft's claims, the new algorithm will result in 30 to 70% faster boot times compared to a traditional "cold" boot in Windows 7.

The need for a clever way to speed up cold boot times was made evident by telemetry data from Windows 7, which demonstrates the large percentile of Windows 7 users that insist on shutting down their machines:

Clearly there were users who preferred shutting down to minimize energy consumption that is required for sleep modes. On the other hand, there are also users that prefer an almost "instant-on" resuming experience that sleep offers. And finally, there are the small number of users in-between who enjoy both with hibernation.

However, hibernation requires a large amount of hard disk space that scales according to the amount of RAM a user has installed on their computer. In addition, some users would also prefer a clean start to their current working sessions upon a login.

The new Windows 8 "hybrid boot" takes advantage of both shutting down and resuming from a hibernation file. Microsoft describes the Windows 7 shutdown process as follows:

  1. The user initiates a shutdown by selecting “shut down” from the Start menu, or by pressing the power button; or an application initiates shutdown by calling an API such as ExitWindowsEx() or InitiateShutdown().
  2. Windows broadcasts messages to running applications, giving them a chance to save data and settings. Applications can also request a little extra time to finish what they’re doing.
  3. Windows closes the user sessions for each logged on user.
  4. Windows sends messages to services notifying them that a shutdown has begun, and subsequently shuts them down. It shuts down ordered services that have a dependency serially, and the rest in parallel. If a service doesn’t respond, it is shut down forcefully. ‪‬
  5. Windows broadcasts messages to devices, signaling them to shut down. ‪‬
  6. Windows closes the system session (also known as “session 0”).
  7. Windows flushes any pending data to the system drive to ensure it is saved completely.
  8. Windows sends a signal via the ACPI interface to the system to power down the PC.

The new "hybrid boot" only goes as far as terminating user sessions, and opts to hibernate the kernel and device driver data for the next boot. The boot technology works hand in hand with EFI technology, which works hand in hand with Windows to enable fast boot. EFI replaces the aging BIOS that is on most current PC's, and Windows 8 fully supports the technology.

It should be noted that a "clean" shutdown will still be offered as a UI-configurable option, or by invoking "shutdown /s /full /t 0" from the command line in Windows 8. Rebooting the system will also trigger a clean shutdown to accommodate installers that reboot the system due to a driver or system file change.

So how do these changes stack up across many existing Windows 7 PCs? The changes are universally positive:

An example is seen in an impressive video posted by a Microsoft program manager. The laptop shown in the video is using EFI boot technology:

These impressive results will be made clear to developers and enthusiasts alike in the upcoming BUILD Conference in Anaheim, which kicks off next Tuesday the 13th. Neowin will be providing live coverage of the four-day event.

Image Credit: Building Windows 8 blog; stock photo from sxc.hu

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81 Comments

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I'm confused, yes it clearly booted up in roughly 8 seconds, but the bar graph above has PC1 as the quickest and it's 15 seconds roughly.

Where did the bar graph come from?

I like it being quick, however I usually always leave my PC on, and if I don't I'm never in a rush for it to boot, same as when I'm on my laptop, but each to their own I guess

Yeah and XP with my Intel SSD resumes from hibernate just as fast. Just to clarify for those who are wondering, the video shows Windows 8 resuming from the new hibernated state that has closed all programs, it's not a cold boot.

xpclient said,
Yeah and XP with my Intel SSD resumes from hibernate just as fast.

Except this is not hibernate. It's a proper shutdown and restart. And while we are at it, my Windows 7 machine resumes from hibernate much faster than XP does.

Gigi Buffon said,

Except this is not hibernate. It's a proper shutdown and restart. And while we are at it, my Windows 7 machine resumes from hibernate much faster than XP does.

Clearly you did not read the B8 blog post in its entirety or see the video. It is resuming from the new state (pseudo shutdown which closes all programs but hibernates instead of shutting down). It is not a cold boot. And on my laptop with Intel SSD, Windows 7 takes the same amount of time as XP. Neither faster nor slower.

That's fine & all, but when it comes to booting & Windows 8, all I have to ask is, "What happened to Direct Experience Mode?" Please tell me it's not just gonaa be a patent; it would be perfect for my dad's DVD collection!

Looking forward to getting an SSD and getting Windows 8, my POST for the BIOS takes about 4 seconds on mine before Windows starts booting, then it takes about 20 seconds for Windows alone, this would be insane?

Is this a cold boot? Not hibernation?

This doesn't mean that it will boot faster when Updates are installed... I believe a hybrid boot can't be achieved by then.

Anyways this is a great improvement, but the problem is that I still have an old lappy no money to upgrade, and SSDs are waaay to expensive vs space right now.... ****, I"m in a very uncomfortable position right now....

Jose_49 said,
This doesn't mean that it will boot faster when Updates are installed... I believe a hybrid boot can't be achieved by then.

Anyways this is a great improvement, but the problem is that I still have an old lappy no money to upgrade, and SSDs are waaay to expensive vs space right now.... ****, I"m in a very uncomfortable position right now....

The article does state that Updates would initiate a full system shutdown so it can change system files/drivers etc.

my biggest concern right now is that i will be using the original desktop App ALOT!.. on the tablet i plan to purchase.
And if its loaded in the back..

will it be paused or actually running like true multitasking?
as it will be regular windows 7 like as far as it seems. And that will pull alot of resources and will eat the battery. And the most important thing for me will be the battery life on that tablet.
I cant wait for BUILD. i am hoping for Microsoft to talk about all these small things so we can prepare for a blast

The regular desktop is like an app in windows 8. I think it will load the first time we open it. But then again there could be an option to load it when windows boots up.
Also i was wondering how much have they improved the ORIGINAL COLD BOOT.
i mean like it was improved in win7 ... how much they improved it in win8?
because basically this is pretty much like a quick hibernation mode. Not exactly loading everything fresh.

in this demo i believe that hp notebook has a revised EFI and SSD. Also i don't think it's a low end machine as well. So that demo system should be a best case scenario or at least close to that.

Also another important thing is that Window 8 didn't boot into a desktop instead a Metro Style UI which looks kind of limited comparing to what we have in traditional Windows 8 desktop.

Of course that'd be a totally subjective opinion but that Metro UI doesn't seem a productive interface for desktop computing; much more suitable for tablet market.

It may be attractive in terms of looks for some yet i don't think it'll revolutionize how i start my apps or interact with them.

yodat said,
in this demo i believe that hp notebook has a revised EFI and SSD. Also i don't think it's a low end machine as well. So that demo system should be a best case scenario or at least close to that.

Also another important thing is that Window 8 didn't boot into a desktop instead a Metro Style UI which looks kind of limited comparing to what we have in traditional Windows 8 desktop.

Of course that'd be a totally subjective opinion but that Metro UI doesn't seem a productive interface for desktop computing; much more suitable for tablet market.

It may be attractive in terms of looks for some yet i don't think it'll revolutionize how i start my apps or interact with them.

its an EliteBook 8640p
(Intel® Core™ i7-2620M, 8GB, 160GB SSD).

yodat said,
in this demo i believe that hp notebook has a revised EFI and SSD. Also i don't think it's a low end machine as well. So that demo system should be a best case scenario or at least close to that.

Also another important thing is that Window 8 didn't boot into a desktop instead a Metro Style UI which looks kind of limited comparing to what we have in traditional Windows 8 desktop.

Of course that'd be a totally subjective opinion but that Metro UI doesn't seem a productive interface for desktop computing; much more suitable for tablet market.

It may be attractive in terms of looks for some yet i don't think it'll revolutionize how i start my apps or interact with them.

It may be an 'upper' end configuration, but that doesn't mean it is the fastest.

This is true of Windows 7 now as well, because boot time has a lot to do with legacy device chipsets, even if they are not being used, etc.

I can show you an smoking Intel i7 computer, that takes 40 seconds to boot, and I can show you a 2008 Netbook that takes 21 seconds to boot. The main difference is the Netbook has few legacy hardware controllers/chipsets.

I have a 2002 Toshiba Laptop with 512mb of RAM, 1.7ghz P4m, and it booted Windows XP in under 20 seconds as well, and boot Windows 7 in about 13 seconds. (It used an early version of EFI, so its time to get the OS booting is about 1 second.)

As for the Metro UI, Really? You haven't even used it, and you already JUST KNOW it won't be good? This is either you want it to suck or you are a bit 'touched'.

Here is a good example of why Metro UI can work well in two environments... (Not including the Metro UI Apps and Live tiles.) Windows Media Center was designed for a remote control, yet it works great with just a mouse, keyboard/mouse, and even on touch/pen devices as well. Sure Media Center is designed to be simple and easy to use with a Remote control, but it works outside of this paradigm just as well.

I am willing to bet good money that even you will 'like' the Metro Tile UI, even if you only use part of the time, like when checking on the weather and other Live Tile information... (And it can be navigated with a keyboard, mouse, touch, pen, remote control and Kinect.)

Some people were wondering if W8 would start a mass migration, like W7 did, this may put those concerns to rest.

That is impressive, although I'd like to see if it improves program loading AFTER Windows boots. When I turn my PC on, only 1/3 of the startup time is from cold to logging into Windows7. The other 2/3 is from logging in to all my programs starting up, which isn't that many at all..

Jombi said,
That is impressive, although I'd like to see if it improves program loading AFTER Windows boots. When I turn my PC on, only 1/3 of the startup time is from cold to logging into Windows7. The other 2/3 is from logging in to all my programs starting up, which isn't that many at all..

Mmm, most of that depends on what programs the user installs. The closest thing Microsoft can do is change the order so that the PC becomes usable without having to wait for all 3rd party programs to start.

Think about Adobe's Updaters for example. Or all other crap software install by themselves if you're a "next, next, next, finish" install kind of guy.

Jombi said,
That is impressive, although I'd like to see if it improves program loading AFTER Windows boots. When I turn my PC on, only 1/3 of the startup time is from cold to logging into Windows7. The other 2/3 is from logging in to all my programs starting up, which isn't that many at all..

It only makes sense that the more software that loads on startup the longer it'll take for you to take full control, though Win7 does work this out well imo, you can use the OS itself before all the apps are done starting up, at least I can. Hardware comes into play here, if you really wanted it to start with all your apps quick then the best option is to just use hibernate and not restart/shutdown unless you are forced to by some patch.

Starting time: 24:00
time when on: 32:00

Total boot-up time is 8 second!!!!

(Google Chrome is offically death.)

Brian Miller said,
That's faster than a Mac!
But how fast does it do it from a cold boot? My Mac does it in 9 seconds from a cold boot.

The video shows a cold boot. Battery was taken off and power chord was unplugged. It was a hard, cold boot man.. Simply jaw dropping!

Yeah, I calculated from the video, and it seems less than 8 seconds.
00:24 starts the PC.
00:31 PC loaded.

fehuris said,

The video shows a cold boot. Battery was taken off and power chord was unplugged. It was a hard, cold boot man.. Simply jaw dropping!

It could have been completely hibernated ¬.¬

Brian Miller said,
That's faster than a Mac!
But how fast does it do it from a cold boot? My Mac does it in 9 seconds from a cold boot.

Ok, this was a cold boot.

Windows 7 resuming from sleep should be instant.
Windows 7 resuming from hibernate should be 3 or 4 seconds +BIOS/POST time.

On computers with less legacy chipsets/hardware, the boot times are already fast.
My 2007 Netbook (5400rpm traditional HD, 1gb RAM), Windows 7 Ultimate cold boots (including BIOS/POST) to the desktop in 21 seconds.

This is about average for Windows 7 already, and can be 'slower' on faster computers if they have more legacy hardware.

BTW. If you are getting a 9 second boot time with OS X, you are running Lion, which is using 'fast boot', which works a lot like the Windows 8 feature this article is talking about. (If you were to do a true boot without 'fast boot', your boot time would probably be 40-50secs.)

Windows 7's boot time is already fairly fast, faster than Linux and OS X 99% of the time on equivalent hardware.

And like I mentioned above, why on earth are people doing full shutdown/restarts? The stability of Windows 7 is to the level that crashes are something most users never see.

Hibernate (Suspend to Disk) and Sleep (Suspend to RAM) are fast, and have eliminated any need to ever shutdown Windows 7.)

Sadly I wish this was true of my Mac, but it is about as stable as XP, which is not horrible, but not Windows 7 like either. I also wish my Android phones or my iPhones were this stable. (WP7 is this stable and why it has a chance.)

As for boot times, we are nitpicking seconds on full computers, yet people don't think twice about the boot time on their smartphone, that is slower than their desktop computer.

Einlander said,
But I don't turn my computer off, or let it sleep.... What about me... Wheel. Squeaking.

pretty much the same here for me. What im really interested is how faster is the RESTART now. Any improvements there?

Zain Adeel said,

pretty much the same here for me. What im really interested is how faster is the RESTART now. Any improvements there?


Most probably!
If you have faster boot-up times and faster shut down times, and you do them in a series, and voila! you have a faster restart.

joshbarfield said,
WOW, this makes me want Windows 8 more! I wonder how that would work on a system with BIOS like most of us here?

it will work equally well for the OS part. The OS itself will boot very quickly. Only add the POST time.. so ur actual boot time will be around 15 seconds or under 20 i suppose.

I wonder what the difference will be with any current BIOS systems like my desktop. Not that I shutdown or anything, only when the power goes out and i'm forced to. Still would be interesting to see how it goes.

EFI is different. You wont see the normal POST if your Mobo is EFI capable.
It can also allow the use of a mouse to change settings in it. Unlike BIOS.

Zain Adeel said,
EFI is different. You wont see the normal POST if your Mobo is EFI capable.
It can also allow the use of a mouse to change settings in it. Unlike BIOS.

That depends on the EFI. I have two EFI computers, but if I were to go into the config screens of both, one you would know was EFI (mouse and all that) the other you would think is still an old fashioned BIOS

How to know if the Motherboard in my laptop is EFI capable ? there is an option UEFI Boot option to enable or disable, its disabled currently... is that option we are talkin about?

thanks

gulshan666 said,
How to know if the Motherboard in my laptop is EFI capable ? there is an option UEFI Boot option to enable or disable, its disabled currently... is that option we are talkin about?

thanks

Yes Enable == EFI on

Zedox said,
It's like MS can do no wrong right now...Windows 8 is like a dream.
A dream which we all can share..... :sigh:

Marcus16 said,
This is something I've always wondered why they didn't do sooner.

Well, good point, and this was debated as far back as the Vista and again in the Win 7 Betas.

Microsoft honestly thought people would realize they didn't need to do a full boot more than once a month when updates hit.

It is also still amazing that people 'judge' Windows 7's performance and compare it to other OSes based on boot time. An OS that you should only be restarting once a month, benchmarking the boot time is a bit insane...

Even today, there is no reason everyone isn't using hibernate, as it also is very fast, and you don't have to close applications or worry about where you left off when working on something.

The 'need' to do a full shutdown more frequently is one of the old school myths that carry on. People that think they need to do a clean install once or twice a year is another crazy old school myth.

Even with Windows XP, that is far less reliable and stable than Windows 7, the need to do a full shutdown/restart more than once a month is silly, and on Windows 7, it is beyond silly.


So if you have a desktop or laptop and are NOT using hibernate and are doing full 'shutdowns' when powering off the device, you are just wasting time. Even on my personal 'test' laptop, that I hit hard with a lot of development and 3rd party beta and test software and hardware, it has only been 'restarted' for the Microsoft Updates in the last 3 or 4 months.

I use sleep when packing the laptop around, and it is set to hibernate when battery levels drop to critical levels. The rest of the time, I have the power button set to 'hibernate' and I hit it to hibernate the laptop.


I wonder if people don't realize that hibernate is fully off, just like shutting it down. I also wonder if part of this the don't realize that they can change the behavior of the power button, to hibernate instead of shutdown. (All modern computers can still be 'forced' off by holding the power button for 4-8 seconds.)

---


The reason this IS important for Windows 8, is the expanded market of Slate/Tablet devices using 32gb/64gb flash drives, where even 1 or 2 gb of RAM reserved for hibernate is costly on these smaller Hard Drive sizes.


ctrl_alt_delete said,
wait.....what? i'm confused.....that did not just take about 10 seconds to boot up


no it took with Post after she pressed the power button 8.54sec to boot but only 2.53 seconds for windows itself to boot i timed it

wow, that's kinda sweet. of course she has no programs loading at start up but i think it will still be pretty cool to get windows up that quickly after a shut down.

BoneyardBrew said,
I'm stoked to try Windows 8 on my SSD. Microsoft is doing a great job!

yea, just imagine how fast it'll be on an SSD

If it's not already booting from an SSD, I'd say the time would be negligible from an HDD. It took it longer for it to POST than for Windows to start.

Caveman-ugh said,
OH MY GOD !!!!
I timed the video and it took (approx anyway) EIGHT SECONDS !!!!

Shoot half of that time was waiting for the unit to POST. That's ridiculously fast for a start that's not from sleep mode.

SharpGreen said,
Sucks that this requires an EFI capable MB.

I'd guess this will also work for machines with BIOSes, but that it'll just depend on how long the OEM bootscreens are.

In that chart listed above (just added it in), I'm pretty sure not all of those machines have EFI. Yet there are still improvements everywhere.

SharpGreen said,
Sucks that this requires an EFI capable MB.

I'm pretty sure when I read the original article that the Windows boot time itself doesn't depend on UEFI motherboards. The time that Windows takes to boot will be common across hard drives, what you are seeing before Windows boot (i.e. POST) will be the deciding factor in your total boot time. For instance my ASUS BIOS motherboard takes like 20 seconds to initialise everything and Windows 7 off an SSD only takes about 7 seconds.

dave164 said,

I'm pretty sure when I read the original article that the Windows boot time itself doesn't depend on UEFI motherboards. The time that Windows takes to boot will be common across hard drives, what you are seeing before Windows boot (i.e. POST) will be the deciding factor in your total boot time. For instance my ASUS BIOS motherboard takes like 20 seconds to initialise everything and Windows 7 off an SSD only takes about 7 seconds.


Yeah ASUS POST is crap.
But you might have an EFI bios for your ASUS, there's one for my P5Q Deluxe, think it sped up booting, but I didn't like the mouse interface so I removed it.

dave164 said,

I'm pretty sure when I read the original article that the Windows boot time itself doesn't depend on UEFI motherboards. The time that Windows takes to boot will be common across hard drives, what you are seeing before Windows boot (i.e. POST) will be the deciding factor in your total boot time. For instance my ASUS BIOS motherboard takes like 20 seconds to initialise everything and Windows 7 off an SSD only takes about 7 seconds.

I agree. With both Asus boards I had, posting too a bit of time on its notmal settings. I reset them so the post still to about 20 secs as well.

Other things that can slow booting is additonal hardware. Example, external HDD always slows a boot because the drive has to be initialized by your motherboard. In my case on my Asus MB, I can adjust the process. However if it is to fast the drive won't come up and then I am force to reboot. This adds an additional 20 secs to my posting. Windows it self takes 20 secs with my present setup. So I still end up waiting over a minute.

I refuse to by an SSD at todays cost based on my storage needs. I did consider using an SSD just for the system files, but again it just isnt worth the cost yet.

Very nice, that thing just started up from a zero power state faster than my current mid-range system does from sleep mode. Giving me incentive to upgrade the motherboard.

FMH said,
And this may make some people, to learn to like Metro.

Why would it? The metro interface has nothing to do with the quicker boot...

When a UI and a postive experience love each other very much,and then close their eyes, likeability is born.