Once upon a time it was a good idea to completely shut down a Windows computer every time you were done using it. But recently, sleep and hibernation technologies have gotten pretty good, so that you can just close the lid on your laptop or hit the sleep button on your desktop computer and pick up where you left off without fully shutting down your computer. That means you shouldn’t have to wait 45 seconds or longer to load Windows the next time you start using your computer.
But here’s the thing: About half of all Windows 7 users shut down their computers anyway. And that means there’s a perception that it takes a long time to turn on a computer, at least when compared with a smartphone which seems to turn on instantly (because it’s always on).
So Microsoft is making changes to the boot process in Windows 8 to speed things up. This means you can shut down a computer completely so that it doesn’t use any energy at all, and you can get a fresh session when you start up, without seeing all the running programs from the last time you used the computer. But you’ll also get very quick boot times.
How quick? Microsoft has posted a video showing a laptop with Windows 8 booting in just 9 seconds.
Microsoft accomplishes this by combining some of the features of Windows 7’s shutdown and boot process with its hibernation process. While turning off a computer still ends all user sessions, it doesn’t end the kernel session, it just hibernates it.
That means it saves the current kernel session to the hard disk, where it can be saved without using any electricity. But since there’s significantly less data to store on the hard disk when hibernating just the kernel, the process is much, much faster than traditional hibernation.
It will take more than just an operating system update to get boot speeds as fast as what you see in the video though. The demo laptop was also using UEFI instead of BIOS, which allowed the hardware to launch the operating system much more quickly. The end result is a Windows laptop that can go from completely off to completely on in under 10 seconds.