With Windows 8, “off” isn’t really off

Fred Langa

Win8’s default shutoff and startup processes are unlike those of any previous Windows version.

Completely shutting Win8 down — or doing a truly cold boot — requires a few extra steps!

Why Win8 doesn’t fully power down by default

Reader Pete was surprised he couldn’t access the BIOS in his new Win8 notebook by restarting the machine.

  • “I just bought a new laptop with Windows 8 on it and ran into quite an interesting problem that I thought Fred (and the rest of the Windows Secrets gang) might find interesting. The machine in question is an Acer V5 Aspire laptop.

    “I wanted to get into the BIOS. The instructions and posts on the Acer forums both said to tap the F2 key repeatedly when the Acer logo screen appears during power-up. No matter how quickly I began tapping the F2 key after a cold restart, I could never get into the BIOS. I called Acer tech support and they described how I could boot to the BIOS from within Windows. Although this worked, it didn’t solve the problem of getting into the BIOS at power-up. I then spoke with a Level 2 technician who was quite knowledgeable.

    “Acer’s shutdown icon lets you select Sleep, Hibernate, Restart, or Shutdown. According to the tech, you must hold down the Shift key while clicking the shutdown icon — and continue to hold Shift until the machine fully powers off. I was then able to enter the BIOS during system startup.

    “The tech stated that Windows 8 doesn’t really shut down when you click the shutdown icon (or go to Power via the Charms bar/Settings). Instead, Win8 goes into a sort of ‘deep sleep’ mode, similar to hibernate. This is one of the techniques the OS uses for fast boots. However, when booting from this ‘deep sleep’ mode, you can’t enter the BIOS via F2. You can get into the BIOS only after a ‘hard’ shutdown (for lack of a better term).

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2013-01-03:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.