Remember when once upon a time all you had to do to start Windows in safe mode was go all Woody Woodpecker on the F8 key during boot? Well in Windows 10 it seems you have to do just a little more...

  1. On the login screen click on the power icon (lower right) then hold the shift key while clicking "Restart" from the popup menu.
  2. During the reboot you will get a "Choose an option" menu. Click on "Troubleshoot".
  3. On the next menu click on "Advanced options".
  4. On the next menu click on "Startup Settings".
  5. On the next screen click "Restart".

When the system restarts you should get a numbered menu where pressing "4" will enable safe mode.

See how Microsoft has made vast improvements to the way you use your computer (heavy sarcasm)?

A simpler way, but one that requires you to make a change that you must later undo, is

  1. Run msconfig.exe
  2. select the "Boot" tab.
  3. Select "Safe Boot"
  4. Click "OK"

Every boot after that will be a boot into safe mode until you undo the changes in msconfig.

So what exactly was wrong with F8?

I'm guessing a bad attempt to shore up Windows security. Now this might be locked down with Bitlocker so let's get into non-bitlocker systems. Just use the old utilman.exe trick to make a new local admin account and you're free to do what you want with the formerly locked down PC. The F8 was making this all too easy so my bet is this is why it went away.

Sadly as Microsoft heads into Windows As A Service, it will be an easier sell for me to replace our test heads with some Raspberry Pi computers running Raspbian.

I could see the possibility of a Windows setting that would allow administrators to prevent F8 safe boot on high security PCs but I would hazard a guess that most home users don't (in fact, cannot) use bitlocker. For most home users, the F8 options was an easy way to get access to a system that may be otherwise bricked. Removeing the F8 functionality for Windows Home Edition was, IMO, a huge mistake.

Don't get me wrong. I think that was a bad move as home users lost some easy repair paths. Microsoft's future according to them is the subscription model which is what IBM, Digital and others had and where the PC broke that model. Strange how history repeats or goes all "Animal Farm."

If Microsoft flipped the model to subscription only tomorrow, we'd all be talking about other OSes PDQ.