Solved What is the Windows 8.1 boot manager doing when I choose 7?

February 27, 2014 at 03:02:50
Specs: Win7/Win8, AMD x2/4GB
I have an ageing desktop system but it runs Windows 7 and 8.1 very well. I have them in a dual boot configuration, with Windows 7 set as the default choice so that it shows the Windows 7 text boot menu. The reason I have both systems is because I am relatively new to 8.1 and will be migrating across to that being my main OS.

I gather the Windows 8 boot loader actually loads most of Windows (8) first before going to the 8 boot menu?

If I start Windows 8, and then shut down the system, when I restart, it skips the Windows 7 boot menu and goes straight to the GUI Windows 8 boot menu. This I don't have a problem with. After all, if I want to go into 8, it's instant, because it's pretty much already loaded.

However, if I want to go into 7, I click on it and the system prepares to restart (again not a major drawback) But it's what happens then that confuses me. It doesn't restart the system straight away. The screen goes black after clicking 7 with just an arrow cursor in the middle and it sits there for about 5-8 minutes doing *nothing*. Well I say nothing, but the HDD indicator is going mental also during this time, so it's obviously doing something, but what?

I know my machine isn't the fastest by any standards! But why should it take so long just to exit the Windows 8 boot menu and restart the PC into 7?


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February 27, 2014 at 03:35:26
✔ Best Answer
When you shut down Windows 8 it doesn't do a full shutdown, in the way that Windows7 does, but writes a lot of the current state to disk. This is why it can restart so quickly. It's like a much more intelligent Hibernate to Disk.

I'm guessing that when you indicate that you are booting into Windows 7 it then needs to do a proper shutdown and this is what is taking longer. But minutes is a very long time. It could be because you have a very old computer or because your disk is badly fragmented (which might explain the excessive disk activity). It shouldn't take anything like that length of time.

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February 27, 2014 at 04:18:46
Thanks for the response.

Yes I thought it might have something to do with Windows 8's "fast startup", as that's why when the system is shut down from Windows 8 and rebooted, it goes to the Windows 8 boot menu rather than my Windows 7 one.

Some good suggestions there. My hard drives are always un-fragmented (I use Defraggler often) It could well be the old computer factor, but Windows 7 and 8 start up very fast on here, in under 30 seconds. I can't see why it'd take that long for a Windows 8 boot menu to simply exit and restart the PC.

This is why I don't use the Windows 8 boot menu as my default, as if I did, it'd be a case of doing this each time. It's a very slow process.

It definitely shouldn't take minutes, as you say. I just wish I knew what it was doing between me clicking on "Start Windows 7" and the PC actually rebooting.

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February 27, 2014 at 04:24:05
All I can say is that my multi-boot setup (including Windows 8.1 and Windows 7) doesn't behave in this way. It's possible that part of the reason is that they are on physically separate disks (Windows 7 on an SSD, Windows 8.1 on a mechanical one). I don't notice any greatly increased disk activity when starting Windows 7, but my controlling menu is the Windows 7 one.

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February 27, 2014 at 04:39:52
It's kinda hard to find any information about it, but Win8.X's boot loader seems to load Win8 in the background, as if the menu choice is more of a formality. There are tools that let you reboot into Win7 without going though the boot loader's menu, but I suspect BCDEDIT can do it for free.

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February 27, 2014 at 06:06:54
Something else, windows may well be installing updates that download for it too, hence it is taking longer.

To err is human but to really screw things up, you need a computer!

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February 27, 2014 at 07:25:25
Updates would have been installed when Windows 8 shut down; and you would see a percentage progress display.

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