Installing or Upgrading Windows 8 : Customizing the Boot Configuration Data (part 2) - Using the System Configuration Utility to Modify the BCD

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Using the System Configuration Utility to Modify the BCD

For more detailed control over the BCD store, you can modify the data by using the System Configuration Utility. To start this program, follow these steps:

1. In the Start screen or Run dialog box (press Windows Logo+R), type msconfig and then press Enter.

2. If you see the User Account Control dialog box, either click Continue or type an administrator password and click Submit. The System Configuration window appears.

3. Select the Boot tab, shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. In the System Configuration Utility, use the Boot tab to modify the BCD store.

The large box near the top of the tab displays the operating systems on the current computer. You see “Current OS” beside the operating system you’re running now; you see “Default OS” beside the operating system that’s set up as the default. (Note, however, that the Boot tab does not include an entry for any legacy OS—that is, Windows XP or earlier—that you have installed.) There are four main tasks you can perform:

• Click the Set as Default button to set the highlighted operating system as the default for the Windows Boot Manager menu.

• Use the Timeout text box to set the maximum time that Windows Boot Manager waits before selecting the default OS.

• Use the check boxes in the Boot Options group to set the following startup options for the currently highlighted Windows 8 install:

Safe Boot: Minimal—Boots Windows 8 in Safe mode, which uses only a minimal set of device drivers. Use this switch if Windows 8 won’t start, if a device or program is causing Windows 8 to crash, or if you can’t uninstall a program while Windows 8 is running normally.

Safe Boot: Alternate Shell—Boots Windows 8 in Safe mode but also bypasses the Windows 8 GUI and boots to the command prompt instead. Use this switch if the programs you need to repair a problem can be run from the command prompt or if you can’t load the Windows 8 GUI.


The shell loaded by the /safeboot:minimal(alternateshell) switch is determined by the value in the following Registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\SafeBoot\AlternateShell

The default value is CMD.EXE (the command prompt).

Safe Boot: Active Directory Repair—Boots Windows 8 in Safe mode and restores a backup of the Active Directory service (this option applies only to domain controllers).

Safe Boot: Network—Boots Windows 8 in Safe mode but also includes networking drivers. Use this switch if the drivers or programs you need to repair a problem exist on a shared network resource, if you need access to email or other network-based communications for technical support, or if your computer is running a shared Windows 8 installation.

No GUI Boot—Tells Windows 8 not to load the VGA display driver that is normally used to display the progress bar during startup. Use this switch if Windows 8 hangs while switching video modes for the progress bar, or if the display of the progress bar is garbled.

Boot Log—Boots Windows 8 and logs the boot process to a text file named ntbtlog.txt that resides in the %SystemRoot% folder. Move to the end of the file and you might see a message telling you which device driver failed. You probably need to reinstall or roll back the driver . Use this switch if the Windows 8 startup hangs, if you need a detailed record of the startup process, or if you suspect (after using one of the other Startup menu options) that a driver is causing Windows 8 startup to fail.


%SystemRoot% refers to the folder into which Windows 8 was installed. This is usually C:\Windows.

Base Video—Boots Windows 8 using the standard VGA mode: 640×480 with 256 colors. This is useful for troubleshooting video display driver problems. Use this switch if Windows 8 fails to start using any of the Safe mode options, if you recently installed a new video card device driver and the screen is garbled, if the driver is balking at a resolution or color depth setting that’s too high, or if you can’t load the Windows 8 GUI. After Windows 8 has loaded, you can reinstall or roll back the driver, or you can adjust the display settings to values that the driver can handle.

OS Boot Information—Displays the path and location of each device driver as it loads, as well as the operating system version and build number, the number of processors, the system memory, and the process type.

• Click the Advanced Options button to display the BOOT Advanced Options dialog box shown in Figure 3:

Number of Processors—In a multiprocessor system, specifies the maximum number of processors or cores Windows 8 can use. Activate this check box if you suspect that using multiple processors is causing a program to hang.

Maximum Memory—Specifies the maximum amount of memory, in megabytes, that Windows 8 can use. Use this value when you suspect a faulty memory chip might be causing problems.

PCI Lock—Activate this check box to tell Windows 8 not to dynamically assign hardware resources for PCI devices during startup. The resources assigned by the BIOS during the POST are locked in place. Use this switch if installing a PCI device causes the system to hang during startup.

Debug—Enables remote debugging of the Windows 8 kernel. This sends debugging information to a remote computer via one of your computer’s ports. If you use this switch, you can use the Debug Port list to specify a serial port, IEEE 1394 port, or USB port. If you use a serial port, you can specify the transmission speed of the debugging information using the Baud Rate list; if you use an IEEE 1394 connection, activate Channel and specify a channel value; if you use a USB port, type the device name in the USB Target Name text box.


Figure 3. In the Boot tab, click Advanced Options to display the dialog box shown here.

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