Software // Operating Systems
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1/5/2012
11:31 AM
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Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud

Microsoft's new OS tools will let you restore a system to pristine factory condition in minutes, or clean up OS performance without losing personal data.

Windows 8 Reset
(click image for larger view)
Windows 8 Reset
Microsoft is looking to make PCs more like consumer electronics products such as smartphones and TVs by adding a feature to Windows that will let users restore their systems to pristine factory condition with the push of a button.

"Most consumer electronics devices today can be reset to some factory state, and so we built this capability into Windows 8 too," said Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft's Windows unit, in a blog post Wednesday. For those that don't require a total reset, but just want to make their systems perform better, Windows 8 will also offer a one-touch "refresh" button.

"We've built two new features in Windows 8 that can help you get your PCs back to a 'good' state when they're not working their best, or back to the 'factory state' when you're about to give them to someone else or decommission them," said Desmond Lee, a Windows program manager.

Hitting the Reset button will remove all personal data, apps, and settings from a PC, and will reinstall Windows from scratch. Activating the Refresh mode also reinstalls Windows, but preserves the user's personal data, most settings, and Metro-style apps. Third-party apps need to be reinstalled because "we do not want to reinstall 'bad' apps," said Lee.

The decision suggests that Metro apps for Windows 8 must be vetted by Microsoft before they can be made available on Microsoft's applications storefront. Metro apps are designed for touch PCs and are already in use on Windows Phone.

Both the Reset and Refresh modes rely on Windows Recovery Environment to get users back up and running. But unlike with previous versions, Windows 8 makes the recovery process simple and uniform across all types of systems. "Today there are many different approaches and tools to get a PC back to factory condition," said Lee. "While these tools all provide similar functionalities, they don't provide a consistent experience from one PC or technique to another."

Windows 8's new tools also make the recovery process much quicker, according to Microsoft. Refreshing can be done in about eight minutes, a quick reset can be performed in six minutes, and a thorough reset, which makes data on the system unrecoverable to all but the most sophisticated and expensive recovery tools, can be done in about 23 minutes.

"When we started building these features, we knew that ease of use wasn't going to be enough--refresh and reset had to be fast, as well," said Lee. Microsoft has yet to announce a ship date for Windows 8. Industry speculation has pegged its debut sometime in late 2012 or early 2013.

IT's spending as much as ever on disaster recovery, despite advances in virtualization and cloud techniques. It's time to break free. Download our Disaster Recovery Disaster supplement now. (Free registration required.)

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Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2012 | 8:04:01 AM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
Exactly, if IT wants control, they should move all of their applications to the server side instead of running them on the client. The vast majority of ISVs (SAP, Oracle, IBM, SAS, etc) use entirely browser based applications without any local OS install anyway. It is so much more efficient. You only have to maintain the server install as opposed to running around updating hundreds of PCs with every new application version. Microsoft is really the only ISV that still insists upon local client installs because they are trying to maintain the relevance of Windows.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2012 | 7:57:31 AM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
Agree, it shouldn't be an issue in a few years anyway. 90% of applications run on the server side through a browser. As soon as the e-mail client and productivity are brought to the server side, the user can wipe their PCs and restore the image to their heart's content. As long as they have a supported browser on the image, it shouldn't matter. Microsoft is the only ISV dragging their feet on bringing all applications to the browser/server side without a local copy. They are using the "users want a rich client" excuse for Outlook and Office to maintain Windows relevance. SAP, Oracle, IBM, Salesforce.com, name an enterprise ISV got rid of local clients years ago.
JWYMAN334
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JWYMAN334,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2012 | 7:07:17 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
Factory Condition: isn't that an oxymoron?
YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2012 | 5:16:41 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
Nice idea, but factory condition also means that all of the patches are gone and need to be reapplied. Rather than tabula rasa I'd rather see a smarter and faster restore point management.
John doe
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John doe,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2012 | 3:08:03 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
Leave it to windows to have an option to blow off your OS and start a new. And knowing windows the users will need it.
tlach48001
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tlach48001,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2012 | 8:48:17 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
I suspect that most IT shops will still need to revert to images, as I think a good deal of commonly-used third-party software will take quite a while to be converted into a "metro-style" app, if ever.
LemonSaucy
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LemonSaucy,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2012 | 8:03:47 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
As one who utilizes computers daily, I've made images. Windows 7 already has all the tools one needs to create a both partial and complete system images. If I need or want to, I can simply apply the image and be back up and running within the hour as if nothing happened, with all my apps and data back in place as I like them. No need to reinstall or setup applications and programs that were included in the image. I just bring back my more current data e.g. documents, music files etc. from my backups.
EpicStory
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EpicStory,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2012 | 7:18:42 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
As PC System Admin I applaud this addition to Win 8. In an enterprise environment, custom Windows images can prevent user "headaches" that equate to job security for IT Pros. This feature has the potential to reduce the time spent xfering account information for upgrades as well as address the occasional Virus that slips through. In the end its all job security.
Les Moor
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Les Moor,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2012 | 6:59:07 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
As an IT professor, you seem a little naive. Why should fixing computer problems not be as simple as possible? As an IT professional, I know that OS reinstall is all too common, and used more and more in the corporate and retail worlds as an alternative to actually fixing problems because it seems to take less time than actually solving the problem. In reality, I question whether the tactic saves time. If the controls on this tool are granular enough it will be a welcome alternative to a complete wipe and reinstall.
wildcatherder
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wildcatherder,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2012 | 6:11:47 PM
re: Windows 8 Reset, Refresh Options Clean OS Crud
As an IT professional I fear that such a simple "app wipe" will cause me years of headaches. It will be difficult to educate users that his is not a "first resort".
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