Show Advanced Boot Options or Menu in Windows 8

A video at MSDN blog shows Windows 8 booting real fast – under seven seconds. The computer used was an Ultrabook, a product of Intel that offers super-fast computing with the latest technologies embedded inside. The problem with Windows 8 is that it boots real fast. For a moment, let us forget Ultrabook and consider a current day PC. These types of PCs too, come with latest technologies and reduce the time taken for instructions to be carried out by operating systems.

Hardware Interrupts In Windows 8

The question arises, if it boots faster, how can it be a problem in Windows 8? The problem is not faster booting but the side effects: Reduction of F2 and F8 time-periods to almost negligible intervals. This, in other words, means that you will not get sufficient time to press F8 for invoking the boot menu. That would be a problem – because you might want to start Windows in Safe Mode – for troubleshooting, system restores or any other purpose.

According to the blog posted on MSDN, the interval wherein Windows waits for the F8 interrupt is reduced to less than 200 milliseconds and thus, the chances of it detecting the F8 interrupt is extremely low.

Earlier, it was the hardware interrupts – pressing DEL for BIOS, F8 or F2 for boot menu – that helped computers take the necessary action. Now it is the software that boots so fast – making the use of advanced technologies – that your chances of making use of hardware interrupts are very low.

With that in mind, another question pops up. If we cannot use F8 to bring out the Windows Boot Menu or even pressing DEL to reach BIOS, how can we make the necessary changes to the BIOS or boot into the Safe Mode for troubleshooting and other purposes?

Advanced Boot Options or Menu In Windows 8

Instead of using hardware interrupts to bring forward the boot menu, Windows 8 offers you three – software based – methods that present the boot menu. The boot menu contains options for:

  1. Loading another operating system
  2. Troubleshooting
  3. Turn off the PC
  4. Use a network device for booting

When you click on Troubleshoot, you are given further options:

  1. Use System Restore
  2. Use System Imaging
  3. BIOS Access
  4. Automatic Repair option – helps you diagnose and fix problems automatically
  5. Command Prompt and
  6. Windows Startup Settings – helps you change the startup settings (enable/disable debugging mode, enable/disable boot logging, enable safe mode, etc. options are present under this group)

Show Boot Menu in Windows 8

As said earlier, there are three methods to show the boot menu in Windows 8. The first method is to get it through the PC Settings dialog box. The PC Settings charm is available under Settings. Open the PC Settings and in the dialog box, click on General and select Restart Now under Advanced Startup.

The second method is easier. Press SHIFT key when you click on Restart. This will shut down the computer and restart it to present you the Boot Menu.

The third method is a bit tough to remember. You have to open the command prompt and type the following:

Shutdown.exe /r /o

All of the above-mentioned methods will show boot menu in Windows 8. However, there is no way to show the boot menu during the first startup. Putting it the other way, if you have to use the options in the boot menu, you have to start and boot the computer and then select restart using one of the above methods. You can, however, try your luck by pressing the F8 key and holding it down as soon as you turn on the computer. If Windows 8 detects it, you may save some steps.

You can also Enable F8 key & boot into Safe Mode in Windows 8.

Also, read:

  1. Automatic Repair on Windows 8
  2. Windows 8 fails to boot; Automatic Repair, Refresh, Reset PC also fail.
Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN


  1. Vasudev

    Can also check further Boot options screenshots available in Windows 8

  2. Tom

    I recently figured out a way to restart the computer in safe mode without using msconfig and charms bar. Here is how to do it.

    When you are at login screen hold the shift key

    Click on shutdown option available at right bottom corner and click on restart

    Now windows 8 should start to its usual advanced menu, where you can chose startup options to go to safe mode and other diagnostic modes or troubleshoot to go to Recovery Environment.

    Try this it works !

  3. Yes, that’s a great way! This and more ways have been covered here:

  4. Maciej Dejewski

    What I was looking for: old fashion boot menu with list of installed OSes which starts before windows .. from BIOS like it used to be…
    I do have few OSes and I don’t know which one I’m going to use next time when I power up my PC so to choose OS after pressing POWER .. I had to set (I’m guessing how english menu equivalents would look like .. I got polish OS) CONTROL PANEL > HARDWARE AND SOUND > POWER MANAGEMENT OPTIONS > SYSTEM SETTINGS (on the left … or smth like CHOOSE POWER BUTTONS BEHAVIOUR) > CHANGE CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE SETTINGS.
    And there is an option called TURN FAST BOOT (RECOMENDED) or smth lika that … I unchecked it on every WIN 8 instance I have and now I get boot menu every time when I power on my PC …
    does windows boot slower? it’s hardly noticeble if at all so this solution works for me 10 times better then some advanced Power resatart into something something …

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