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Chapter 10. Managing the Boot Process > What Happens During the Boot Process?

What Happens During the Boot Process?

The boot process begins with the hardware bootup and self-diagnostics. Windows NT plays no part in the process until your computer starts to load the operating system from the hard disk. When you installed Windows NT, it configured your system's boot record to run the Windows NT boot loader (a program called Windows NTLDR). It's when the boot loader takes over that things start to get interesting. The following steps summarize the Windows NT boot process:

  1. As your system starts to boot up, the OS Loader notation appears on-screen as the boot loader refers to the BOOT.INI file for a list of operating systems. If you've configured your system to dual-boot between different operating systems, the boot loader presents the list of options on the boot options menu. If, however, you're not dual-booting, the boot loader skips displaying the boot options menu and goes directly to step 3.

  2. You can choose one of the operating systems from the list or allow the boot loader to run the default selection after waiting a specified amount of time.

    If you choose another operating system from the menu, that operating system will load normally. Otherwise, the boot loader continues the Windows NT boot process with the following steps.

  3. The boot loader runs Windows NTDETECT to determine what components are installed in your computer system.

  4. The OS Loader notation appears on-screen again briefly. If you press the space bar, the boot loader pauses the boot process and displays the Hardware Profile/Configuration Recovery menu, allowing you to choose a hardware configuration or the Last Known Good configuration. This feature is invaluable when you make configuration changes that unexpectedly prevent Windows NT from starting successfully.

  5. The blue screen appears as the low-level components of Windows NT load.

  6. Windows NT then refers to the Registry, initializes drivers, and starts services based on the information stored there.

  7. The high-level Windows NT components load.

  8. The Windows NT logo screen appears along with the Welcome dialog box. At this point, you can press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and log on to the system.

  9. Windows NT opens your user account, installs your user profile, and performs network logons. You're ready to work in Windows NT.



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