Metro styling injected into Windows 8 boot process

Microsoft has updated its Building Windows 8 blog again, and this time, it’s talking about changes to the boot process. With Windows 8 focused on bringing tablets into the fray, it’s no surprise that elements of the boot process have been optimized for touch-based input. They’ve also been given a Metro-style makeover, which is at least a visual improvement over current text-based boot options that look straight outta DOS. Take it away, Billie Sue:

Windows 8 has a nifty new interface that manages booting from multiple operating systems, and it’s possible to tweak your boot preferences without even loading the OS. Users with UEFI-equipped motherboards will be able to use this screen to boot from removable devices like optical discs or USB thumb drives. Access to the Windows Recovery Environment has also been built into the interface, which offers gateways to System Restore, image recovery, and a command prompt with a tablet-friendly software keyboard.

One of the more interesting changes with the new boot process is what users will actually see on their screens. Although this feature doesn’t seem to be available with BIOS-based systems, Windows 8 will allow UEFI splash screens to remain front and center until the operating system’s login screen is ready. Instead of watching a Windows loading screen, users will see whatever collection of logos and (hopefully) tasteful graphics their tablet, notebook, or motherboard makers have chosen to display.

Disabling the default splash screen, which is often painfully ugly and typically provides no useful information about the boot process, is one of the first things I do when setting up a new system. As long as that’s still an option with Windows 8, I think I could get used to the revamped boot menu and Recovery Environment.

Comments closed
    • DarkUltra
    • 8 years ago

    Shouldn’t the possibility to choose what OS to boot, and multi-boot setup be an open standard, like tcp/ip, sata, html, email etc? Microsoft, Apple and *nix developers should have to work together when a new bootloader would be built. Filesystems should also be open/free so it would be seamless to access files across systems either by moving over a harddrive or dualbooting between two os’s. Same with file sharing over a network.

    The democratic value of a PC is incredible, but only because of all the open standars. So fundementals like boot options and filesystems should be easy accessible and contributing to a fair competition, just like html, email, etc. But I guess the trade commission have to force MS and Apple to work with the *nix guys, and then they may hamper things with poor cooperation and undocumented features like MS once did with html and their browser.

    Locking down the boot process is not an excuse for security in this case, unless they can include older os’s and linux. If MS or Apple took ownership over SATA so Linux users would have to settle for IDE drives, people would really notice. I believe this is in prinsip the same.

    • ryko
    • 8 years ago

    Looks like it still takes forever to get into recovery console in win 8… Way to go!

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    I really hope this is just for the non-x86 tablet version of 8 because otherwise there is no excuse for not letting you key in your own values for options in that boot menu.

    Sadly I don’t think there will be many tablets that dual boot so it looks like they have no excuse.

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    The real reason behind this is to fight priacy.

      • rechicero
      • 8 years ago

      Probably. If they can check the boot files, that would harm pirates. And maybe legal customers that use a pirated version of their legal version, just out of convenience (no need to ask for activation if changing components).

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Some say the real reason is money: MS wants 30% of each app distributed via Metro.

      • Forge
      • 8 years ago

      Bull. The real reason behind this is to concentrate power in the hands of MS and the OEMs.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        In that case it finally boils down to money.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    Why does Windows 8 hate me?

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Because it’s a computer program?

    • Jahooba
    • 8 years ago

    I like the text on the post screen(s) – it lets me know the clock speed I’m running because sometimes there’s an error. Win 8 is still in development, so maybe they’ll add that?

    Aside from that, I rather like this look. Looks waaaay nicer than a black screen and white text. I don’t think I’ll ever get a touchscreen for my PC, though – I can’t stand oil/ dirt smudges on my screen.

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    The more I hear about W8, the less I like it.
    It looks more and more like a big booby trap.
    It just don’t trust it.

      • albundy
      • 8 years ago

      you would really enjoy windows ME. seriously. please try it!

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Well, at least you could install ME without having to activate it via an online connection.

    • esterhasz
    • 8 years ago

    I believe that users who are able to remove a faulty driver from a command prompt probably had no trouble finding the recovery console before the facelift…

    • PenGun
    • 8 years ago

    First thing I disable is the splash screen. I want to see what’s happening. It has helped on many occasions.

    I save my artistic expression for the windose login screen.

      • GTVic
      • 8 years ago

      Maybe they could add an option to show a POST/boot log in a scrolling frame. On my computer the POST goes by so quick my LCD monitor isn’t warmed up yet so I wouldn’t see it anyway.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 8 years ago

      + 1 million.

      I think it’s rather cool and sexy to see cryptic POST information. I guess Joe Dumbass doesn’t agree, but that’s ok because most OEM computers do have their own boot logo to hide all the scariness. These boot options are nice, but it makes me sad that it [i<]isn't[/i<] old school at the same time.

    • SonicSilicon
    • 8 years ago

    Non-randomized on-screen keyboard for log-in?
    I certainly hope that was just for demonstration purposes and won’t be that way when 8 ships. Otherwise it would be an aggravating security failure that even a popular Korean F2P game solved years ago.

      • GTVic
      • 8 years ago

      How do you know it wasn’t random? You only saw one demo 🙂

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      That was for recovery mode, and it assumes a touchscreen device (like a tablet) that won’t usually have a hardware keyboard. Why would it be a security concern?

        • Voldenuit
        • 8 years ago

        If the onscreen keyboard is non-randomized, you can look at the smudges on the screen and reverse-engineer the password?

          • SonicSilicon
          • 8 years ago

          I was thinking about keystroke loggers, mouse trackers, cameras, etc.

          • GTVic
          • 8 years ago

          That is most significant on touchscreen devices that are only used for login/access. For W8 devices, the touchscreen is primarily used for user applications and only a small % of the time for log on.

    • Johnny5
    • 8 years ago

    My BIOS screen is the Foxhound logo from Metal Gear. I find it is very well suited for the 16-color and low pixel density. I also considered ‘A Starry Night’ by Van Gogh, but I figured having the more low-key of the two would be better over time.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 8 years ago

    So, they are targeting ATM users? I’ve seen better UIs (sans touch input) on dumb terminals.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 8 years ago

    Speaking of boot process [url<]http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/205255/windows-8-oem-specs-may-block-linux-booting[/url<] More job for the lawyers I guess.

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      bad link?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        remove the period and it loads. The problem can be fixed by signed binaries on the Linux end, btw.

          • Forge
          • 8 years ago

          So you’re going to contract with a CA to sign every kernel you build? You *CAN’T* sign GRUB 2 (the default Linux UEFI bootloader), since it’s GPL v3.

          Your response is as useful as “You can fix the problem by not installing Linux”.

            • Ryu Connor
            • 8 years ago

            It would be ideal for Linux to do it as it would help protect against attacks that are trying to find their way into the boot process.

            Even if Linux doesn’t do it, it would appear easy enough to deal with. The UEFI specification details that changing from user mode (secured) to setup mode (unsecured) will cause UEFI to stop validating the boot files.

            As I noted in the forum this technology is not new, nor is it Microsoft specific. This technology developed out of whole disk encryption and is one of the capabilities of TPM chips.

            I’d also note that this technology doesn’t only break Linux. It breaks older versions of Windows too.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            My response was plenty useful – it explained how to remove the error from the link.

            Not my problem if the boot loader can’t be signed; someone will need to come up with one that can be. Or find some hardware that isn’t approved with the Windows 8 logo.

        • PrincipalSkinner
        • 8 years ago

        Fixed.

      • k00k
      • 8 years ago

      From how I understand it, it seems OEM pre-loads of W8 will likely have this enabled, unless the OEMs themselves decide otherwise or relent. Not sure about retail copies. If this comes to fruition, it’ll be a PITA for those buying boxes from the big OEMs who want to dual-boot an older version of Windows or Linux without nuking the factory-loaded Windows/recovery partitions.

      Of course, sooner or later, someone will likely figure out a way around this.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    Wow, and it’s only, um, 2011…

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 8 years ago

      I think I’m stealing some of your votes…or did you take mine?

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        Wow – you threw yourself on a grenade for me. Thanks, bro….

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