Unable to Enter BIOS Setup With Windows 8

I recently bought myself an Asus ZenBook UX31A. I upgraded the OS to Windows 8 Pro. After I installed BIOS update 212, I stopped being able to get into the BIOS setup menu. I would press F2 during the POST screen just like before, but it would just boot straight into Windows. I’m pretty sure the BIOS update was a coincidence.

The culprit turned out to be Windows 8’s new fast startup feature. When you ask Windows to shut down it actually goes into a state similar to hibernation so it can start back up more quickly. As far as the firmware is concerned the system is hibernated, so it skips the normal boot path and boots straight into Windows. The ZenBook’s SSD means it boots plenty fast already, so I just disabled fast startup. That’s in the desktop control panel under “Power Options”. Click “Choose what the power buttons do” in the left bar, then uncheck “Turn on fast startup” in the bottom group of options. You may have to click “Change settings that are currently unavailable” at the top of the window and go through a UAC prompt first.

If you want to leave fast startup on, you can reboot into the BIOS setup menu from the Windows 8 settings panel under “General”, then “Advanced Startup”. As an aside, whose bright idea was it to have two completely separate places you have to look for every setting? That’s just silly.