Introduction to Boot Options

The concept and content of boot options are very similar on all computers that run Microsoft Windows operating systems. However, prior to Windows Vista, computers with different processor firmware store boot options differently and require different tools to view and edit the options on each system.

Version of WindowsDescription

Windows XP, Windows Server 2003

Computers with BIOS firmware, namely those with x86 and x64 processors, store boot options in a Boot.ini text file that can be edited in Notepad. Computers with EFI firmware, primarily computers with Itanium processors, store their options in non-volatile RAM that must be edited by using specialized tools.

Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista

Windows Vista, and later versions of Windows, store boot option in a firmware-independent storage and configuration system. Windows Vista also introduces a new Boot Manager and system-specific boot loaders. For more information, see Boot Options in Windows Vista and Later.


This section includes:

Boot Options in a Boot.ini File (Windows XP, Windows Server 2003)

Boot Options in EFI NVRAM (Windows XP, Windows Server 2003)

Overview of Boot Options in Windows Vista and Later (Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008)



Send comments about this topic to Microsoft

© 2014 Microsoft