The future of laptop computers is one which doesn’t involve optical drives. You already see that on netbooks and ultrabooks and it won’t be too long before you see DVD and Blu-Ray drives go the way of the floppy drive. With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about the startup repair options for computers running Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 (& R2), and Windows 8.
Currently if your computer won’t start up, you need to either pull out the Windows installation media or use a startup repair disk. You can create a startup repair disk from the Backup and Restore control panel item. The real limiting factor about the startup repair disk is that it actually has to be an optical media disk. Unless you faff about (something that you generally don’t want to do in a situation where you are trying to repair a computer that won’t boot) – you can’t create a startup repair USB stick.
I did a quick check in Windows 8 Dev Preview and the same CD/DVD requirement is there as well. No USB startup repair.
The ability to create a startup repair USB stick seems obvious. Many computers these days don’t ship with optical media drives – and the types of tablets that Windows 8 will run on certainly won’t ship with those drives built in either. It would be great if this sort of thing could be included in a future Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 R2 service back, but even if not then, perhaps it would be something that could be added to Windows 8 in the many months we have until the product’s release. Keeping the ability to create optical media repair disks without being able to create USB thumb drive media repair disks given that every computer available today can boot from USB seems like an anachronism.