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Microsoft disabled the recovery mode key (F8) and replaced it with some automatic detection algorithms.

These detection algorithms begin every couple of times you boot up but it doesn't complete the boot process. I can get that far. However, I can not get to any menus.

Is there anything else I could try before I reformat the drive and try again?

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You act like that is Windows 8's fault. Something happen to your installation, a normal user, won't have to wait 2 hours. –  Ramhound Oct 4 '12 at 16:15
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It was my fault that the machine was borked, because I used the command line to disable DEP. Doing that on Win8 results in a broken (non-booting system). Lesson learned: Don't DO that. ;-) –  Warren P Oct 5 '12 at 20:54
    
So by recovery mode, you probably mean safe mode, and not the Recovery Console included in older versions of Windows. Which loads even less than safe mode. –  shurane May 13 '13 at 20:28
    
Mostly I just want Windows to offer me some repair choices. Safe Mode actually offers very little in terms of recovery or repair options. –  Warren P May 13 '13 at 21:05
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

For Windows 8, the Shift+F8 keyboard shortcut at boot should open up recovery mode.

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Shift+F8 sir. Not just F8. Windows 8 is fancy :)

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thank you. yes, it is fancy. –  Warren P Oct 5 '12 at 20:55
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