Windows Recovery Environment

The Windows Recovery Environment, or WinRE, has actually been around for awhile. It was first introduced in Windows Vista as a basic boot environment from which users could run tools like System Restore, Startup Repair, and the Command Prompt, and it could also restore a complete OS image created by Windows Backup.

This menu remained basically unchanged in Windows 7, but in Windows 8 it picks up Metro styling and also replaces the text-based menu that appears when you press F8 at Windows startup, one of the last bastions of the Windows 9x/NT era to make it into 2012 relatively unchanged.

The new graphical menu presents all of the same options as the old WinRE, as well as access to the new Refresh and Reset functionality—the main difference is that options for booting into Safe Mode are buried in the Advanced Options rather than coming up right when you press F8. When you choose a function like System Restore, the desktop-style tools included in Windows Vista and Windows 7 will pop up and walk you the rest of the way through the process. Most of the troubleshooting options require you to input the name and password for an administrator on the computer, to prevent tampering.

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but the Metro styling is functional and attractive. See the screenshot gallery below for more.

Secure Boot and UEFI Support

After Metro, this is probably one of Windows 8's more misunderstood features, so let's try to break it down and demystify it: UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) is a replacement for the legacy BIOS found in most PCs. UEFI support has been around in the 64-bit versions of Windows since Vista, but it has only recently started to see wider adoption in PCs. In addition to being more modern and flexible than BIOS, UEFI supports a feature called Secure Boot, which can compare signatures in drivers, OS loaders, and other things against security certificates stored in firmware to verify that your computer is using a known safe bootloader rather than a malware bootloader. On both ARM and x64 computers certified for Windows 8, Secure Boot will be enabled by default to prevent these potential exploits. Note that this is an extremely brief overview of the functionality—you can read more on the Building Windows 8 blog if you’re interested.

Now, the problem people have with this new feature is that it can potentially be used to block any non-Windows bootloader from functioning, including those used in operating systems like Linux. By default, this is true, but you’ve got an out: in all x86-based Windows systems that ship with Windows 8, you should be able to add and remove security certificates from UEFI as needed (thus adding certificates that Linux needs to be recognized as a trusted operating system) or disabling secure boot entirely (making the Windows 8 PC act more or less like most Windows 7 PCs do now).

This will be slightly different for Windows on ARM—WOA systems will also support UEFI and thus the Secure Boot feature, but users won’t be allowed to add certificates or disable the feature, and OEMs will be disallowed from shipping updates or tools that unlock the bootloader (as some Android tablet makers have been known to do). You might not like this behavior, but the fact remains that this is how the vast majority of ARM devices work today. Linux advocates act as though Microsoft has taken something away in disallowing third-party OSes on WOA devices, when in fact they’re disabling nothing that hasn’t already been disabled on most competing tablets.

Internet Explorer 10 Windows 8 and the Enterprise: Windows To Go, Deployment Tools, and a Business Perspective
POST A COMMENT

286 Comments

View All Comments

  • yannigr - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    May I say something here?
    Sorry for my English in advance.

    I don't know if your work at Anandtech is a full time job or more like an occasional work. When you see a site like Anandtech you think that this is more like a big company with full time employees not a site with people that come and go just to write an article, or a review, at their spare time with hardware that they buy or if they are lucky get from the big companies as a gift for a presentation/review.

    So when you are thinking Anandtech (and this is where maybe we misjudge you) as a big company you don't expect to read stuff that you read from a 16 years old kid in a small forum with 2-5-10 thousand members about his last review. I can not accept an excuse like this that you give. If you are in the BIGGEST and MORE RESPECTED hardware review site on the internet, and I don't think I am wrong here, you buy hardware that you also DO NOT LIKE or is not good enough for YOU. Why? Because that is your job or/and because you are writing for ANANDTECH not YannigrTech.

    When you have the time to fast-test 8 machines you try to find an AMD system and even if it exists a system with VIA hardware. I know I must be joking with the last one about VIA. Well, I am not. I do think that if there was a VIA system in there many would be posting about how they were surprised about that. Even if they where laughing at it's performance it would have been a plus for the review.

    Think a review many pages long about the next 3DMark only with AMD gpus because the reviewer don't find Nvidia gpus good enough. Many Nvidia fans would have been disappointed, to put it mildly.

    Anyway the first post was written just for fun, because I know that Intel don't only have the better hardware but also the biggest influence not only at hardware sites but in people's minds too. Between two equal systems most just choose Intel because it is an Intel.
    This post was whiten only because I was not expecting someone that writes for Anandtech to say that:
    I only have Intel, I am not buying AMD because it is just not good enough for me.

    Last. Thanks for the review. No joking here. It was interested and useful.
    Reply
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    First, thanks for reading! I'm glad you found the review useful. Second, I want to try to answer some of your questions as to how AnandTech (and most new outlets on the Internet) work.

    Most writers who get paid are not working full-time positions. This is true both of independently owned websites like AnandTech, corporate-owned sites like IGN, or even big-time traditional publications like the New York Times. Most sites will contract freelancers rather than full-time workers both because of cost (freelancers are almost universally paid less than salaried employees and get no benefits) and administrative reasons (full-time employees mean that you've got to start paying attention to things like benefits and payroll taxes, necessitating a larger administrative staff to handle things like accounting).

    Different outlets handle things in different ways - at AnandTech, the pay is OK for contractors, and most of us can bother Anand himself if we have questions about a story we're working on. On other sites (to cherry-pick an extreme example, let's call out the Huffington Post), freelancers are sometimes paid nothing, and are rather compensated with "exposure" and clips that they could in theory use to land a paying gig later on. I think what HuffPo (and, really, any profitable publication that doesn't pay its writers) does is a scam and I've got some strong feelings about it, but that's not my main point - my point is that much of what you read on the Internet is being written by people who don't write on the Internet full time. At AnandTech, even the senior editors are contracted freelancers rather than full-time employees.

    Different people write for different reasons, but my goal is to make a living at it - I'm doing it because I love it, sure, but I'm also doing it because there are bills to pay. To do that, I cannot and will not spend $500 on hardware to use in a review that will earn me quite a bit less than $500. As anyone can tell you, that math doesn't add up, and since this is a review of the beta version of an x86-compatible Windows product - a product that looks and acts the same on any hardware that meets the minimum requirements - it's frankly not as important as a few of you seem to think it is. And that's all I have to say about it.
    Reply
  • yannigr - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    I still believe that you should buy an AMD system. Not today or tomorrow but the next time you would need an extra machine. But that's me.
    Thanks for answering my post :-)
    Reply
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Monday, March 19, 2012 - link

    I'll look into it for sure. Trinity has my interest piqued. :-) Reply
  • TC2 - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    AMD?

    This isn't the point! Andrew Cunningham here hasn't downside. I want to ask, what is the problem here? The recent Intel CPUs a far superior than the amd cpus! And, if you want to know the best sides of W8 ... the amd just isn't the first choice ... :)))
    Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    At the time Andrew got those machines, the best option across the board likely would've been Intel. The Atom build is thoroughly outclassed by Brazos but it simply wasn't available at the time.

    It's only really the past twelve months to fifteen months where AMD has actually had a viable range of mobile processors for netbooks and larger.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    Name something "far superior" to AMD A8 3850 that has comparable cost. Reply
  • TC2 - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Oops to daisies :) It would make a god to tears!
    You and all amd-fans, are very funny!
    When the conversation is about cores - "amd has twice than Intel" ?!
    When the conversation is about performance - "the cost isn't comparable" ?!
    When the conversation is about CPU - "amds APU is bla-bla..." ?!
    When the conversation is about benchmarks - "look look, the BD is almost like Nehalem (btw. 2 generations older)" ?!

    All those is UNTRUE!!! And remember well - I and many-many people doesn't give a shit about amds green presentations, cores and so ... We need fast CPU in ST as well as MT, and fast GPU! And believe me, esp. in professional segment amd got nothing significant :)))
    Reply
  • chucky2 - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    I'd like for you to do an article on feature support of DirectX 9 cards under say Windows XP SP3 vs Windows 8. I know AMD dropped support for their DirectX 9 based cards before their 10.2 (Feb 2010 driver set), and then later belatedly added 10.2 as the last supported driver. My interest is in if they've dropped proper support of their cards in Vista/7/and now 8 rather than putting in the (very likely minimal) work to properly support them.

    Thanks for the article!
    Reply
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    The 10.2 driver was only supported under Vista, but in my experience it works fine for Windows 7, which means it should work OK in Windows 8. One of the iMacs I tested on used a Radeon X1600 Mobility card - I installed the Vista-certified driver off of a Snow Leopard DVD and didn't see any crashes or instability, but your mileage may vary. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now