Microsoft could be hoping to preempt the further spread of Linux into its territory by developing its own pre-boot interface, a survey sent by a reader to Engadget shows. Tentatively called just Instant On, the proposed feature would mimic the approach taken with Dell's Latitude Instant On or the Splashtop interface on some ASUS mainboards and notebooks by giving users basic web browsing, media playback, and messaging in a special interface that would start in less than eight seconds.
Microsoft asks users if they would also consider calendaring, e-mail, VoIP and even running some full Windows apps important, and asks users whether they would allow more or less time for the feature to start up.
The company hasn't publicly committed to this sort of feature in Windows 7 and has generally resorted to attempts to avoid a full boot of Windows with Vista, including efforts to introduce a true sleep mode and its largely unsuccessful Vista SideShow mode, which gives PCs an offline view of some PC information from a secondary screen.
Long boot times have been considered one of the factors in a hostile reaction to Vista, combining with unwanted third-party apps on some systems to boot times as high as two minutes where more optimized platforms, such as Linux and Mac OS X, often boot in under one minute. These rivals are often chosen in part for their quick load times or, in the case of Mac OS X, for its longstanding instant wake feature.