New laptops that boot up in 30 seconds? Too slow for me. Five seconds? Better. But what I want is a machine that is ready in about a second, just like my smartphone.
I’m fully aware that expressing any impatience with a computer’s boot time invites derision. When the entire globe is engulfed in an economic crisis, measuring the seconds required to start different computers may seem the most trivial of concerns.
Still, I’m not alone. Unhappiness with boot times, which commonly run from 45 seconds to 60 seconds, is shared by many computer users, as reflected in much online discussion of the issue.
I’ve come to believe that the unhappiness does not illustrate impatience. Rather, it reflects an important shift in computing, as we increasingly rely on our laptops not as machines that we use for long stretches at a time, but as machines for using the Internet, often and briefly, and not much else. We don’t tolerate, and have never tolerated, long wait times that are disproportionate to the activity that follows them. If we need to spend only a few seconds looking up something on the Web, it’s only natural that we want the preparatory time to be as close to zero as possible. It’s not impatience, just proportionality.