Windows 7: Boot time under 15 seconds?

When Microsoft was developing Vista, or Longhorn, as it was known way back when, company officials were fond of making promises about ways that Microsoft would improve on Windows XP with its next-generation Windows release.

With Windows 7, Microsoft’s goal seems to be to provide as few promises as possible against which the final product can and will be compared and measured. That said, over the Labor Day weekend in a post by Distinguished Engineer Michael Fortin — who leads the Fundamnetals feature team in the Core Operating Systems Group — Microsoft did dangle one tangible tidbit about Windows 7. From the post:
“For Windows 7, a top goal is to significantly increase the number of systems that experience very good boot times. In the lab, a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds.”

(The reason I put a question mark in the headline of my post is because Fortin doesn’t actually go so far as to say that Microsoft is promising to hit the rarefied “in the lab” boot-time measure. But the implication is definitely there.)

The August 29 post goes on to discuss how Microsoft is aiming to reduce the number of system services in Windows 7, “as well as reduce their CPU, disk and memory demand” as part of the quest to improve overall system performance with Windows 7. Windows 7 will include more enhancements to pre-fetching, which was introduced initially as part of Windows XP, according to Fortin’s post, and more parallelism in driver initialization — two more ways Microsoft is counting on speeding up initial system boot times.
Microsoft also is working with PC makers to show them ways to improve Windows 7 system performance, as well, Fortin blogged. He wrote:

“(W)e’d like to point out there is considerable engagement with our partners underway. In scanning dozens of systems, we’ve found plenty of opportunity for improvement and have made changes. Illustrating that, please consider the following data taken from a real system. As the system arrived to us, the off-the-shelf configuration had a ~45 second boot time. Performing a clean install of Vista SP1 on the same system produced a consistent ~23 second boot time. Of course, being a clean install, there were many fewer processes, services and a slightly different set of drivers (mostly the versions were different). However, we were able to take the off-the-shelf configuration and optimize it to produce a consistent boot time of ~21 seconds, ~2 seconds faster than the clean install because some driver/BIOS changes could be made in the optimized configuration.”

The much-touted official “Engineering Windows 7? blog has provided a lot of words about how Microsoft developers think about building an operating system and how/why certain trade-offs are made. But specifics on Windows 7 features? Sounds like Microsoft won’t be sharing anything substantial on that until it releases a broader test build of 7, which is expected around the time of the Professional Developers Conference in late October.


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