I am dual-booting between Windows 7 and Windows 8 on a test workstation, and typically reboot 3-4 times per day.

If I set Windows 8 as the default OS, I get the Windows 8 graphical boot screen, which is easy to 'see' during the boot process, but if I set Windows 7 as the default OS, I only get the Windows 7 text-mode boot screen. While I mostly want Windows 7 (at the moment), on the occasions I restart to get to Windows 8, I often 'miss' seeing the text-only boot and have to restart twice.

Is it possible to (and if so, how do I) configure this such that Windows 7 is the default OS, but still having the Windows 8 boot screen appear?

Edit: Just so you guys know, I've tried setting Windows 7 as the default both from the Windows 8 Boot screen itself, and from within Windows 8 -- neither of these have the desired effect.

  • 1
    PJC: You should be able to change how long the W7 boot loader screen stays up. – Moab Nov 11 '12 at 15:40

I'm afraid it may not be possible:

As long as Windows 8 boot files are in use, the boot menu you see depends on at least 3 things:

  • The default Windows entry set in the BCD: if it is Windows 7, you'll see the textual menu.
  • If the one for Windows 8 has bootmenupolicy is set to Standard, because if it is set to Legacy or it's not even set you'll see the textual menu even if Windows 8 entry is set to be the default one.
  • If the boot manager entry has displaybootmenu set to Yes, the textual menu would be used too independently of the default entry.

So you can choose to have the textual menu in any config, but not the opposite.

I kind of understand why that is: with Windows 7 you're first presented with the boot menu, and then things start to load depending on what you choose. In Windows 8 the boot menu doesn't appear until you have already loaded a good deal of things, and if you happen not to want to boot the default entry, the machine reboots loading what you wanted afterwards.

You can even duplicate the entry for Windows 8 and yet you experience the same behaviour, having 2 exact same entries to load Windows 8 results in the machine rebooting if you don't choose the default one even though what you're about to boot is actually the same.

So if anything other than Windows 8 is set to be the default in the BCD store, preloading Windows 8 stuff prior to the choosing has no sense, hence you're presented with the textual menu instead and then things get loaded. I guess that kind of preloading is not available or possible with other versions of Windows.

  • Thanks - that makes it clear - though in actual fact, I'd be happy to be able to elect to be 'forced' to preload parts of Windows 8 just to get the graphical bootloader even if it meant a (second) reboot every time! – PJC Nov 11 '12 at 17:32
  • I agree, I understand a sane default but I think that ultimately being able to do what you want is a good thing. – Xandy Nov 11 '12 at 22:42
  • There are other elements which can influence display of "metro" boot menu even if Windows 8 is default and bootmenupolicy is set to standard ! For example if emssettings is set, if displaybootmenu is set. – snayob Nov 28 '12 at 10:44
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    @snayob Yes, displaybootmenu is another, I'll add it to this answer, but I'm not aware of how EMS influences the boot menu to display. – Xandy Dec 3 '12 at 22:04

You cannot have Windows 7 as default boot entry and "metro" or new UI boot menu.

The reason is that UI boot menu is displayed by code in .dll files not available in Windows 7.

Also setting boot menu policy for Windows 7 loader entry (set as default) has a strange side effect - boot menu is skipped and Windows 7 is booted directly even when there are multiple boot menu entries.

There is no documentation on subject from Microsoft. Other BCD elements have also side effects on boot menu display: DisplayBootMenu (for bootmgr) and emssettings.

See Boot Menu Policy for detailed explanation.

See also short description of boot manager elements and boot menu items.

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