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5/24/2012
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Windows 8 Says Goodbye To F8 Reboots

Windows 8 will display new menu of troubleshooting choices to give users of fast-booting PCs and tablets plenty of time to enter alternate startup modes such as Safe Mode.

8 Tablets Fit For Windows 8 Beta
8 Tablets Fit For Windows 8 Beta
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Windows 8 PCs and tablets will boot so quickly that users who need to interrupt the process won't have time to hit function keys such as F8. Therefore Microsoft has added a new menu to the OS that provides access to key management features.

"If the entire length of boot passes in just seven seconds, the individual portions that comprise the boot sequence go by almost too quickly to notice," said Chris Clark, a program manager on Microsoft's user experience team, in a blog post. "These times will continue to shrink, and even now they no longer allow enough time to interrupt boot as you could in the past."

To allow users to enter alternate startup scenarios such as Safe Mode, Microsoft has added a menu to Windows 8 that replaces the F8 interrupt process. Options include Troubleshoot, Use Another Operating System, Use A Device, and Turn Off Your PC.

"Finally, we created several straightforward methods to easily reach the boot options menu, even when nothing is wrong," said Clark.

[ Considering a Windows 8 ARM tablet? Here's what you need to know now: Windows 8 ARM Tablets: 8 Must-Know Facts. ]

In case of a loading error, Windows 8 will automatically fail over to the boot menu. "This even includes cases where it appears (to Windows) that boot has succeeded, but in actuality the PC is unusable," said Clark.

To display more advanced graphics during the boot cycle, Windows 8 relies on new technology called the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) for BIOS. UEFI lets Windows work in concert with PC makers' firmware to render visually consistent graphics and messages through the entire boot cycle.

Microsoft plans to release two versions of Windows 8, one that runs on PCs powered by standard, x86 processors from Intel and AMD, and one that's geared for tablet devices that use chips that incorporate ARM's system-on-a-chip design. Both versions will offer boot screens that can be controlled through touch rather than a keyboard and mouse.

No official release date has been set for Windows 8, but a Microsoft official earlier this week said PCs and tablets that use the OS will be available by year's end.

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