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Are Quick-Start Systems Worth It?

Are Quick-Start Systems Worth It?

Are you in a hurry when you turn on your PC? Waiting for Windows to boot up can seem like a long time (or a good time to make a cup of coffee). But manufacturers are starting to show off quick-start “pre-boot environments” for everything from applications like Web browsers, Skype, and productivity suites to hardware activities like DVD players–all ready to go in seconds rather than the typical minutes it takes to boot up a machine. These manufacturers tout the benefits of saving you battery life on your laptop by not spinning up the hard drive or powering all the components. But what’s the trade off? These pre-boot environments are much more limited than a real operating system. We weigh the pros and cons: Just how fast are these “instant-on” environments? Can they really give you more battery life? Will they ever replace Windows or are they marking time until Windows improves?

Start up faster with Express Gate: but what do you do next?Start up faster with Express Gate: but what do you do next?

We looked at a range of quick-start systems including Asus’ Express Gate (like many of these environments, it’s actually a Linux system called Splashtop, which is also used on the consumer version of the Lenovo S10), Voodoo IOS, the Hybrid, Dual versions of HyperSpace (from BIOS manufacturer Phoenix), the xcross Media Bar on the new Sony VAIO P Series, and QuickLook software on the HP EliteBook 2730p.

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  • 0 Hide
    dlvonde , March 4, 2009 5:41 PM
    I could see this being very useful for one or 2 a special purpose media player that will play all movie/audio formats and allow more of the hardware power to go to the actual content instead of supporting a bloated OS.

    Many years ago I wondered if it would be possible to have an "OS Chip" that was exponentially faster than a stardard hard drive for storing your OS looks like we're getting there!
  • -1 Hide
    A Stoner , March 4, 2009 8:23 PM
    At the very least it will push Microsoft harder to improve boot times. I think microsoft is working hard to improve boot times, but harder works for me. Really it will all be moot once they perfect one of the super fast static memory technologies, as then the whole system can go from off to on almost instantly... measure in 10s of ms.
  • 0 Hide
    fuser , March 4, 2009 9:55 PM
    I think these options will be less attractive once SSDs go mainstream. Intel SSDs boot Vista in < 10 seconds. Windows 7 should be even quicker.
  • 1 Hide
    captaincharisma , March 5, 2009 2:30 PM
    Many years ago I wondered if it would be possible to have an "OS Chip" that was exponentially faster than a stardard hard drive for storing your OS looks like we're getting there!

    this is what i am wondering too. right now these SSD's are just too small and the speeds are still trivial. i see if SSD don't make it then the motherboard makers will in the future just put and expansion port on there motherboards for a flashchip just for the OS
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 5, 2009 10:53 PM
    One important thing you seem to have forgotten: Windows XP, a full-sized OS that can boot in ~20 seconds (from bootloader screen to login screen, at least on my Athlon 64 X2 system with old Barracuda 7200.7). Newer hardware should improve it and possibly break 10 sec barrier.

    Shame that XP wasn't included in this Speed Table...

    Conclusion: you don't need to choose between beefy Vista or crippled quickstart os'es. Just use XP (or some light Linux distro).
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 6, 2009 3:53 AM
    @fuser: see the boot speed table for how fast Windows 7 can boot on a fast SSD like the one in the S101; even the team at Phoenix were impressed by it.

    @Anonymous: a Windows system wakes from sleep just as quickly and has done for many years. However many people choose to hibernate or shut down to save power. The first time I shut the lid on a Mac and left it unplugged for a few days and expected it to still have power when I came back to it, I was infuriated that it had stayed in sleep and run down the battery. You're comparing apples and oranges (and I wouldn't personally call Subway a premium brand either!)

    Mary Branscombe
  • -1 Hide
    doug-jensen , March 6, 2009 11:06 PM
    Why not have the option to boot into Windows Mobile: that takes only a few seconds, and there are lots of apps (like MS Office compatible word processor) that open in another second or two; and the interface to WM is familiar to many PDA/smartphone users. The discontinued NEC MobilePro 900 and Psion Netbook Pro boot instantly, and Open Office's word processor or MS Word reader open instantly.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2009 10:14 PM
    Does anyone know where to download Quicklook2
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 15, 2012 8:57 AM
    Try this version:​.exe
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