In the past, when my frustration with the time it took to boot up my Windows XP laptop finally got the better of me, I would track down a copy of the old Microsoft Bootvis utility. This provides a nice graphical view of what is happening as a machine is booting. However like many things, a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. Therefore, unless you really have a deep understanding of the Operating System’s architecture, there is a good chance that you will end up using such tools incorrectly. This is part of the reason why I have read Microsoft removed the support for the Bootvis utility. I will happy put myself in the category of “a little bit of knowledge” when it comes to the internal architecture of Microsoft’s kernel. However, because I recognise my limitations I am careful to use such tools to only find obvious potential problems.
The other day, the long boot time for my Vista laptop finally got to me and I went looking for a replacement for bootvis that would work in Vista. I wanted to see if I could find any obvious culprits that were causing such a long boot up time. I came across the Microsoft Performance Analysis Tools (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/performance/default.aspx). This is a much better set of tools than then old Bootvis utility, and the performance hooks are built into the Vista and Server 2008 operating system. At its most basic, you can use the tools to provide you with a similar graphical display of boot performance which was provided by Bootvis.
In the end I found a problem hardware driver that wasnt loading properly and was fixed with an update. The Logitech webcam services seem to have a known conflict with cygwin, so I disabled those (dont use the webcam all that much and I can always turn them back on when I need to), and an update of the VPN software. These were very obvious candidates to research for problems, or do basic testing (e.g. disable and see if there is a boot time difference), when comparing them against the other drivers and services load times that were being undertaken. Given the power of the tools, I am sure there is a wealth of information that can be gathered to find less obvious issues, but it would require me to find some time to really learn how to use these tools as they were intended. So I am happy to fix the obvious problems to provide just enough improvement to satisfy my boot time frustrations.