Refresh and reset your PC


The power of personalization is something we all love about PCs, but sometimes there is good reason to want to roll back to an earlier state. Most consumer electronics devices today can be reset to some factory state, and so we built this capability into Windows 8 too. Desmond Lee is a program manager on the Fundamentals team and authored this post about “push-button reset.”
–Steven


Many consumer electronic devices these days provide a way for customers to get back to some predefined “good” state. This ranges from the hardware reset button on the back of a wireless network router, to the software reset option on a smartphone. 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.

Today, there are many different approaches and tools to get a PC back to factory condition. If you buy a PC with Windows preinstalled, it often comes with a manufacturer-provided tool and a hidden partition that can be used for that specific model of PC. You might also use a third-party imaging product, Windows system image backup, or the tried and true method of a clean reinstall from the Windows DVD. While these tools all provide similar functionalities, they don’t provide a consistent experience from one PC or technique to another. If you are the “go to” person for your friends, relatives, or neighbors when they need help with their PCs, you may find that it’s sometimes necessary to just start over and reinstall everything. Without a consistent experience to do this, you might end up spending more time finding the recovery tool for a specific PC than actually fixing the problems, and this gets even worse if you’re helping someone over the phone.

With Windows 8, there are a few key things that we set out to deliver:

  • Provide a consistent experience to get the software on any Windows 8 PC back to a good and predictable state.
  • Streamline the process so that getting a PC back to a good state with all the things customers care about can be done quickly instead of taking up the whole day.
  • Make sure that customers don’t lose their data in the process.
  • Provide a fully customizable approach for technical enthusiasts to do things their own way.

As we began planning for Windows 8, we asked ourselves: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could just push a button and everything is fixed?” We really wanted to focus on the concept of “push button”, which translated into a design goal that represents a simple to use, predictable, and fast solution. We also wanted to build on the process many people already use today when they need to start over: back up your data, reinstall Windows and apps, and restore your data. The strength of this approach is that you start over from a truly clean state, but you still get to keep the things you care about. With that as the basis of the solution, our goal was to make the process much more streamlined, less time-consuming, and more accessible to a broad set of customers.

Our solution in Windows 8 consists of two related features:

  • Reset your PC – Remove all personal data, apps, and settings from the PC, and reinstall Windows.
  • Refresh your PC – Keep all personal data, Metro style apps, and important settings from the PC, and reinstall Windows.

Reset your PC to start over

In some cases, you might just want to remove everything and start from scratch manually. But in other cases, you’re removing your data from a PC because you’re about to recycle or decommission it. For both of these situations, you can easily reset your Windows 8 PC and put the software back into the same condition as it was when you started it for the very first time (such as when you purchased the PC).

Resetting your Windows 8 PC goes like this:

  1. The PC boots into the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE).
  2. Windows RE erases and formats the hard drive partitions on which Windows and personal data reside.
  3. Windows RE installs a fresh copy of Windows.
  4. The PC restarts into the newly installed copy of Windows.

(Note that the screenshots below reflect changes that we’re making for Beta, some of which are not yet available in Developer Preview)

Reset your PC and start over. Here's what will happen: All your personal files and apps will be removed. Your PC settings will be changed back to their defaults.

Resetting your PC

For those of you who worry about data that may still be recoverable after a standard reset, especially on PCs with sensitive personal data, we also will be providing an option in Windows 8 Beta to erase your data more thoroughly, with additional steps that can significantly limit the effectiveness of even sophisticated data recovery attempts. Instead of just formatting the drive, choosing the “Thorough” option will write random patterns to every sector of the drive, overwriting any existing data visible to the operating system. Even if someone removes the drive from your PC, your data will still not be easily recoverable without the use of special equipment that is prohibitively expensive for most people. This approach strikes a good balance between security and performance – a single pass through your hard drive offers more than enough security for typical scenarios such as donation to a local charity, but does not bog you down for hours or days with multi-pass scrubbing operations that might be required for regulatory compliance if you are dealing with highly confidential business and government data.

How do you want to remove your personal files? Thoroughly, but this can take several hours. Quickly, but your files might be recoverable by someone else.

Choosing how your data should be removed

Refresh your PC to fix problems

Resetting your PC can take you back to square one if you encounter a problem, but that’s clearly a very heavy weight solution, something you’d only do as a last resort. But what if you could get the benefit of a reset – starting over with a fresh Windows install – while still keeping your stuff intact? This is where Refresh comes in handy. Refresh functionality is fundamentally still a reinstall of Windows, just like resetting your PC as described above, but your data, settings, and Metro style apps are preserved. We have a solution to help you with your desktop apps, too, which I’ll talk about a little later.

The coolest part about Refresh is there’s no need to first back up your data to an external hard drive and restore them afterwards.

Refreshing your PC goes like this:

  1. The PC boots into Windows RE.
  2. Windows RE scans the hard drive for your data, settings, and apps, and puts them aside (on the same drive).
  3. Windows RE installs a fresh copy of Windows.
  4. Windows RE restores the data, settings, and apps it has set aside into the newly installed copy of Windows.
  5. The PC restarts into the newly installed copy of Windows.

Unlike manually reinstalling Windows, you don’t have to go through the Windows Welcome screens again and reconfigure all the initial settings, as your user accounts and those settings are all preserved. You can sign in with the same account and password, and all of your documents and data are preserved in the same locations they were before. To accomplish this, we actually use the same imaging and migration technologies behind Windows Setup. In fact, the underlying setup engine is used to perform both Reset and Refresh, which also benefit from the performance and reliability improvements we added to setup for Windows 8.

Refresh your PC Here's what will happen: Your files and personalization settings won't change. Your PC settings will be changed back to their defaults. Apps from Winodws Store will be kept. All apps you installed from discs or websites will be removed. A list of removed apps will be saved on your desktop. Next / Cancel

Refreshing your PC

Misconfigured settings are sometimes the cause of problems that lead to customers needing to refresh their PCs. To ensure that Refresh is both effective in fixing problems and in making sure customers don’t lose settings that they might have trouble reconfiguring, we’ve thought a great deal about which settings to preserve. In Windows 8 Beta, some of the settings we’ll preserve include:

  • Wireless network connections
  • Mobile broadband connections
  • BitLocker and BitLocker To Go settings
  • Drive letter assignments
  • Personalization settings such as lock screen background and desktop wallpaper

On the other hand, we deliberately chose not to preserve the following settings, as they can occasionally cause problems if misconfigured:

  • File type associations
  • Display settings
  • Windows Firewall settings

We will continue to enhance and tune both lists over time based on how we see the feature being used in the Developer Preview and Beta.

Restoring your apps

We preserve only Metro style apps when customers refresh their PCs, and require desktop apps that do not come with the PC to be reinstalled manually. We do this for two reasons. First, in many cases there is a single desktop app that is causing the problems that lead to a need to perform this sort of maintenance, but identifying this root cause is not usually possible. And second, we do not want to inadvertently reinstall “bad” apps that were installed unintentionally or that hitched a ride on something good but left no trace of how they were installed.

It is also important to understand that we cannot deterministically replace desktop apps, as there are many installer technologies as well as custom setup and configuration logic, of which Windows has little direct knowledge. That is why we discourage the use of third-party uninstallers or scrubbers. One simple thing to consider is that many setup and installation programs conditionally implement functionality based on the state of the machine at the time of the install (for example default browser, default photo handler, etc.)

You can, however, cleanly install and uninstall all Metro style apps using the .appx package format. If you’re interested in learning more about how Metro style apps work in this regard, check out the following sessions from //build:

If you do need to reinstall some desktop apps after you refresh your PC, we save the list of apps that were not preserved in an HTML file, and put this list on the desktop, so you have a quick way to see what you might need to reinstall and where to find them.

One caution is that if any desktop apps you have require a license key, you will need to follow your manufacturer’s instructions for how to reuse the key. This might involve uninstalling the app first, going to a web site, or going through some automated steps by phone, for example.

What if the PC can’t boot?

When your PC is able to boot normally, you can get started with refreshing or resetting it from PC settings. (This is the Metro style app that we called “Control Panel” in the Windows Developer Preview. It is different from the standard Control Panel that you can still use for more complex tasks from the desktop.) The options are easily discoverable, and will be in the same place on every Windows 8 PC. Once launched, you can get through them with just a few clicks, which makes it easy to guide someone through the process over the phone.

However, in some situations, the PC might not boot successfully and you might want to refresh or reset it to get it back to a working condition. In a previous post, Billie Sue Chafins discussed how the boot experience has been redesigned from the ground up, including troubleshooting using Windows RE. Naturally, we’ve made it possible for you to refresh or reset your PC from there as well.

 

Troubleshoot / Refresh your PC - Reload Windows without losing your personal files. / Reset your PC - Put your PC back to the way it was originally and remove all of your files. / Advanced options

Refresh your PC Here's what will happen: Your files and personalization settings won't change. Your PC settings will be changed back to their defaults. Apps from Winodws Store will be kept. All apps you installed from discs or websites will be removed. A list of removed apps will be saved on your desktop. / Next / More information

Refreshing or resetting your PC from the new boot UI

In Windows 8 Beta, there will also be a tool that you can use to create a bootable USB flash drive, in case even the copy of Windows RE on the hard drive won’t start. You’ll be able to start your PC with the USB drive, and fix problems by refreshing your PC or performing advanced troubleshooting. And if your PC comes with a hidden recovery partition, you’ll even have the option to remove it and reclaim disk space once you’ve created the USB drive.

Refreshing your PC to a state you define, including desktop apps

We know that many of you like to first configure your PC just the way you like it, by installing favorite desktop apps or removing apps that came with the PC, and then create an image of the hard drive before you start using the PC. This way, when you need to start over, you can just restore the image and you won’t have to reinstall the apps from scratch.

With this in mind, we’ve made it possible for you to establish your own baseline image via a command-line tool (recimg.exe). So when you get a Windows 8 PC, you will be able to do the following:

  1. Go through the Windows first-run experience to configure basic settings.
  2. Install your favorite desktop apps (or uninstall things you don’t want).
  3. Configure the machine exactly as you would like it.
  4. Use recimg.exe to capture and set your custom image of the system.

After you’ve created the custom image, whenever you refresh your PC, not only will you be able to keep your personal data, settings, and Metro style apps, but you can restore all the desktop apps in your custom image as well. And if you buy a PC that already comes with a recovery image on a hidden partition, you’ll be able to use the tool to switch from using the hidden partition to instead use the custom image you’ve created.

If you’d like to try this out now, a preview version of this tool is included in the Windows 8 Developer Preview. You can try it out by typing the following in a command prompt window running as administrator:

mkdir C:\RefreshImage

recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage

This creates the image under C:\RefreshImage and will register it to be used when you refresh your PC. Again, this is a very early version of the tool, so we know it’s not perfect yet. Rest assured that we’re working hard to get it ready for primetime.

Getting back to productivity quickly

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. Many of the recovery tools preloaded with PCs today take an hour or more just to get the PC back to factory condition, and you often still have to spend hours copying back your data and reconfiguring everything. Even solutions that back up and restore the entire hard drive can take a long time, as the time required generally scales with how much data you have.

To give an example of the performance of our solution, we installed a clean copy of Windows on the Developer Preview PC that we gave out to attendees at the BUILD conference, filled most of the drive with data, and measured the time it took to go through various recovery operations:

Recovery operation

Time required

Refreshing the PC

8 minutes 22 seconds

Resetting the PC (quick)

6 minutes 12 seconds

Resetting the PC (thorough, with BitLocker enabled)

6 minutes 21 seconds

Resetting the PC (thorough, without BitLocker)

23 minutes 52 seconds

Compared to a baseline time of 24 minutes 29 seconds for restoring the same contents from a system image backup, most of these times show a considerable improvement.

The beauty of refreshing the PC is that performance isn’t impacted by the amount of data you have. Using the migration technology behind Windows Setup, your data never leaves the drive, and they are not physically moved from one location on the disk to another either, hence minimizing disk reads/writes. Restoring a system image from an external drive using the Windows backup utility, on the other hand, took much longer due to the data in the backup, even with the relatively small 64GB drive on the prototype PC. Thoroughly erasing data did take a bit longer than the other operations, as every sector of the drive had to be overwritten. However, you may also notice that when BitLocker drive encryption was enabled on the drive, this process took much less time. This is due to an optimization we employ so that erasing an encrypted drive would require erasing only the encryption metadata, rendering all the data unrecoverable.

A consistent and easy way to get back to a known good state

Sometimes things can go wrong and you just want to get back to a good state quickly, while other times you might want to remove your data before giving a PC to another family member, employee, or co-worker. With Windows 8, we’ve streamlined these processes and made them more accessible to customers with the new refresh and reset features. Here’s a video showing these features in action:


Download this video to view it in your favorite media player:
High quality MP4 | Lower quality MP4

We hope you’ll find these features useful and time-saving when you’re fixing your own PC or helping others with theirs.

— Desmond Lee

Comments (118)

  1. Matthias says:

    The best way of handling reset/refresh is not having to do this stuff 😉

  2. Nice but Risky! says:

    Nice feature, yet risky! Need to be protected by entering admin password or something.

    PS: Old video, it's 2012 now, Microsoft! Just kidding! =)

  3. pradeeplive says:

    Awesome..

  4. Mike says:

    I would highly recommend choosing a semantic other than "Reset the PC" which has obvious overlap with the historical actions of pushing the reset button, typing Ctrl-Alt-Delete, unplugging/plugging the power cable, and so on. I would hate to be assist my grandma over the phone, ask her to reset her PC, and the next thing I know the whole machine has been erased and set back to factory defaults. Yikes!

    I realize that the technical term for the actions I describe above is "restart" and not "reset," but let's all be realistic here.

  5. John mitas says:

    how does restore points fit in with this refresh/reset. Sounds very confusing now that we have 3 ways to reimage our computers…

  6. coder543 says:

    So basically refresh and reset brings us back to workable state like a fresh install of Linux? Seriously… if you're ditching the entire software architecture you had before. Ditch the old kernel too. Make Windows a Linux based OS, or buy Haiku OS and extend it. There are such better options.

  7. Valkyrie-MT says:

    On a related note of not being able to boot.  I enabled bitlocker on Win8 Developer Preview and needed to plug in a physical keyboard into the slate to type the bitlocker password!  I hope you'll consider changing this requirement for the Beta.  I should not need to carry around a keyboard with my slate in case I reboot.  

  8. coder542 says:

    Also… may I recommend supporting multiple partitions on flash drives? That would help me start a business tremendously easier… and it would be nice if we could see some support for filesystems other than FAT and NTFS. Maybe supports HFS+ and ext2? Play nice with others.

  9. Gray Knight says:

    This sounds absolutely great!  I'll have to start trying it out.

  10. Emi says:

    Really nice, i have used it couple times on WDP, and it works good. i like when i refresh my Windows how it tells me on desktop, which desktop apps were removed. its boring to install all over again since we still dont have enough metro style apps, but I like how Refresh works!

    hopefully we dont have to use it 🙂 but its nice to know it is there.

    i cant wait for beta!

  11. Why does it take longer to reset the PC when Bitlocker isn't enabled ? I thought it's the other way arround.

    Explain it please.

    Resetting the PC (thorough, with BitLocker enabled)

    6 minutes 21 seconds

    Resetting the PC (thorough, without BitLocker)

    23 minutes 52 seconds

  12. Carol Anne says:

    Big question:  Will we still have the option of an "in-place upgrade" to restore the Windows 8 OS, preserving all settings and applications?  That has been the preferred way of doing "Refresh" for the past decade, and it works very well.  

    For MS' "Refresh" to kill all applications (and their data) previously installed is like Debtor's Prison:  It may feel good for authorities, but it's not very effective in changing people's experience.

  13. Michael says:

    @Bastian92 When BitLocker is enabled, the data on the harddrives is already unreadable by thirdparty software because it's encripted. Thus there is no need to go and write random data. Which is why it's much faster.

  14. Iqbal Shahid says:

    Consider using a better microphone to record these sessions. I hear buzz.

  15. Joao M Correia says:

    "We preserve only Metro style apps when customers refresh their PCs, and require desktop apps that do not come with the PC to be reinstalled manually."

    Boom, goes the dynamite… real applications were the best target for this, not glorified tweet-o-ramas.

  16. High priest of the bathroom throne says:

    Be happy they included this feature.

  17. Joao and Bastian92 says:

    Read the article before posting, m'kay – don't just look at the pictures…

  18. @Joao M Correia — I think we tried to address this in the post:

    We preserve only Metro style apps when customers refresh their PCs, and require desktop apps that do not come with the PC to be reinstalled manually. We do this for two reasons. First, in many cases there is a single desktop app that is causing the problems that lead to a need to perform this sort of maintenance, but identifying this root cause is not usually possible. And second, we do not want to inadvertently reinstall “bad” apps that were installed unintentionally or that hitched a ride on something good but left no trace of how they were installed.

    It is also important to understand that we cannot deterministically replace desktop apps, as there are many installer technologies as well as custom setup and configuration logic, of which Windows has little direct knowledge. That is why we discourage the use of third-party uninstallers or scrubbers. One simple thing to consider is that many setup and installation programs conditionally implement functionality based on the state of the machine at the time of the install (for example default browser, default photo handler, etc.)

  19. vasek7 says:

    I don't understand why you do this. It will never be working. I can’t imagine my Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server with configured Automated Build and Flight Simulator X with tons of add-ons are still working after PC Refresh.

    You are solving aftereffects instead of causations. You need to implement just a full and complete uninstallation of third-party applications, so any crap (registry entries, files, drivers, virtual devices, shell extensions, services, firewall rules, shared dlls and everything what slows down the system) can’t stay in Windows after uninstall. Then you need a mechanism to ask the user to uninstall applications when he doesn’t use them for a while.

    One universal install, setup and configuration technology for Windows desktop apps would be very useful.

  20. @Steven Sinofsky

    While "Refresh your PC" is an interesting option, it would be better if there were a new app platform that targeted the desktop UI. Then, you could replace both Metro-style apps and some desktop apps.

  21. Fran says:

    Off-Topic: In Windows 7 well, but in Windows 8 are totally inconsistent the buttons of the taskbar; I hope that in the version final are squares and change the interior design.

  22. @Steven Sinofsky and @Desmond Lee

    I just noticed that you mentioned a tool that can restore desktop apps in addition to Metro-style apps. Do you plan to create a GUI for this tool?

  23. @Michael Thx, better to open my eyes next time 🙂

    @Steve Sinofsky

    Does this new recovery environment  replace aslo on new PC's OEM recovery partition?

  24. Gary Voth says:

    @Vaclav Dajbych: "One universal install, setup and configuration technology for Windows desktop apps would be very useful."  

    Yes, but there is no way to compell all desktop applications to use such a technology absent a fully sandboxed application environment. This is what Metro is, and presumably this is why Metro applications can be preserved.

  25. The Windows 7 "Create a system image" feature is still available in WDP. This means that we now have:

    1- restore points (general or per file)

    2- Windows 7-like system images

    3- Refresh (default state or custom image)

    4- Reset

    5- Clean reinstall

    All these things should be put together in one single place. Currently, there are:

    – Desktop Control PanelFile History

    – Desktop Control PanelRecovery

    – Desktop Control PanelRestore Windows 7 Backups

    – Desktop Control PanelSystemSystem Protection

    – Metro Control PanelGeneral

    Please give us a unified Control Panel for Desktop and Metro, as well as a unified Reset/Refresh/Restore experience. Something more user-friendly, something simple.

  26. pmbAustin says:

    I have to agree:  it's pretty clear a lot of posters here didn't bother to read the article before posting.  Sheesh.

  27. @DanyRodier 2, 3,4,5 are all in the same place in the control panel.  (1) for files is right where the file is so you don't have to go anywhere else to see it.  (1) for installing drivers is "tucked away" since it is really for edge cases.  

    The problem with "unification" is that there are many lesnes through which to view a single hierarchy.  Our focus is on search as a way of sifting through this rather than trying to constantly craft and then in the next release recraft the one physical hierarchy that is never right for all cases.  The easiest thing we can do for programs and settings is to provide fast access to search and then you can use the start screen to create your own hierarchy, favorites, and groups.  We work hard to make sure the queries will return the full set of results in a reasonably ranked order.  So "restore" for example will provide all of your 1-5 (in current builds in English it provides all of the above you mention in almost that order.  

  28. Bladehawk says:

    This is a nice feature, this, and fast boot are the only reasons for people to upgrade (copy dialog is nice but not a reason to upgrade).  Loose metro, refocus on the desktop, and windows may be worth looking at.

  29. LD says:

    @Steven

    I agree with relying on search but why do you need to break the desktop view to use it.  There is no reason to hide my desktop to launch an app.  Metro is awful for PC users and metro "apps" should run in windows on the desktop when desired. Until that happens, metro is an albatross around our necks.

  30. RenJen says:

    @Steven Sinofsky, does reset/refresh take care all windows updates?

  31. Chris McGrath says:

    "Reset your PC" is very bad wording. It doesn't convey that this is a huge action that should be taken seriously.. And people say reset instead of restart all the time.

    Even "Refresh your PC" doesn't indicate how serious the action is.

    Consumers are now familiar with the term "Factory reset" please use this term instead.

    Just quickly would it be possible for you to manipulate the system a bit more to enable us a fast way of removing all crapware?

  32. Many customers might be fooled by this "Reset your PC" concept.

    It looks more like "Clean install Windows" if all the apps the PC came with are not restored.

    Most users buy OEM computers that come with special drivers and apps, which I always remove but that's another discussion, and "resetting" means going back to a previous state, but the earlier state the user ever experienced is the out-of-the-box experience state or whatever state was configured by the OEM, not a clean installation of Windows.

    And if it does not restore the user or factory (OEM) settings, it can't even be called "resetting", I agree the "reset" term is very ambiguous.

    Given that we now have multiterabyte drives, can the system image be strictly limited to the OS and apps, and not include personal data or all the empty space on the system drive? The feature in Windows 7 is currently unusable for most users because it requires as big a backup drive as the system drive for the image, even if most of the system drive is unused. A much bigger one even to add the regular data backups. I actually would have liked to see more optimization in this area, like replacing all duplicate files in winsxs with just a pointer in the system image, and duplicating the files back when restoring, or restoring most of the standard non-critical files (help files, resource DLLs) from the cloud instead of forcing hundreds of millions of users to restore them from their own backups, at least as an option for computers with an Internet connection. The current system image is such a waste of hard drive space and money globally.

  33. Alvaro says:

    I agree "Reset your PC" sounds like the operation power off and then on the PC (or device) … a better description would be "Restore device to factory settings"… or something like it.

    Also being the drastic action it is, this is one place i would like to se a annoying UAC-like prompt asking for admin password (picture pass, hard key or whatever you want)

    RenJen has a valid question about windows and microsoft updates, are they kept after a "reset/refresh" or not???

    I know enterprises who use sysprep before  donating their old PC's… would this be replaced by a "reset" ??????

  34. Alvaro says:

    I agree "Reset your PC" sounds like the operation power off and then on the PC (or device) … a better description would be "Restore device to factory settings"… or something like it.

    Also being the drastic action it is, this is one place i would like to se a annoying UAC-like prompt asking for admin password (picture pass, hard key or whatever you want)

    RenJen has a valid question about windows and microsoft updates, are they kept after a "reset/refresh" or not???

    I know enterprises who use sysprep before  donating their old PC's… would this be replaced by a "reset" ??????

  35. Aethec says:

    [It looks like my previous comment wasn't posted. Why do you have to use these weird DoPostBack… methods?]

    Awesome. Really. Especially the "replace the OEM's image" part. These OEM recovery images are near to useless because of all the bloatware they contain, right now downloading a Windows ISO from the Web and reinstalling it with the product key that came with the computer is the only correct way.

    Off-topic constructive rant…I see the control panel UI hasn't changed in the Beta, or at least you don't want to show it yet. Some time ago, an allegedly leaked screenshot contained a really good-looking control panel: http://i.imgur.com/sioa9.png

    If this screenshot is fake, please take some clues from it. The light gray color used for the "vertical tabs" part really helps to distinguish the "tabs" and the content. The DP's control panel looks weird because you have to think twice to understand the right side is an expansion of the left side's selected item. The "leaked" screenshot is an example of good Metro ; the DP Control Panel is an example of bad Metro.

  36. cristian says:

    it would be cool if windows 8 had a messaging center like a people hub but that worked like the xbox messaging platform where you recieve notifications when you get a new message but you would be able to connect all your services like facebook xbox and twitter messages. also having the ability to form partis and talk to people using skype voice or video chat. i think skype should be in charge of all things messaging at microsoft.

  37. John says:

    I love the way that you able to create/customize how your refresh image gonna be. But make selectable the image file from other location e.g dvd, usb-flash, removeable usb-harddrive. etc.

    Please make an option to image to partition and not only disk. Most people have two partition or more make it also able to auto-reboot after done imaging via command-line.

    *More like ghost http://www.symantec.com/…/index

  38. pmbAustin says:

    @LD, you don't have to hide your desktop to launch an app.  You can have icons on your desktop, and applications pinned to your task bar.  Just like always.  Only for very little-used things would you ever need to go to search (and thus 'hide' your desktop behind the search/results screen).

  39. I have tried out both features on the Developer Preview build, and for someone like myself, they are a great addition to Windows!

    It's too bad that desktop applications cannot be preserved after a refresh, but you have explained clearly why this cannot be the case.

    One suggestion would be the ability for technical users to adjust the thorough erasure method. It appears that a single pass, pseudo-random stream is being used at the moment, but in other environments I would like to choose a more "secure" erasure method from within Windows (of course there are other ways of doing this, but an in-Windows option would be great).

  40. Nigel says:

    Great stuff! I've set up a Windows 8 wiki at: win8tabs.com/windows-8-wiki

    Would be great if you guys can share your experiences with Windows 8 Refresh and Reset there!

  41. Great idea says:

    Use fingerprint recognition as well, for touch login access, in your previous topic.

  42. Bitcrazed says:

    @coder542/3 – If you want an OS that runs on the Linux kernel and supports HFS / EXT2/3/4 / BTRFS / whatever, then use Linux.

  43. LeoStorm85 says:

    Great work!!! Can't wait for the beta.

  44. How does this work with the OEM crap-ware? Since there is a desktop mode, OEMs will definitely install crap-ware….will reset/refresh get rid of them, or will re-infect the computer with the crap?

  45. Re: What happens to OEM pre-installed apps, drivers, and settings.

    The original reset and refresh image will be prepared by the OEM.  While it doesn't have to be the same as the image the PC first boots with, it is safe to assume it will be.

    The feature to create your own custom reset and refresh image exists so that a person who doesn't like the OEM's image can create one customized specific to their needs, including desktop apps they wish to preserve across the process.

  46. @Jon DeVaan

    Will there be a GUI made for this feature? This is a useful tool, especially for Windows installations that aren't made by OEMs (my PC is one that I built myself and bought Windows 7 for). A command line tool can be useful, but no one will find it if there is no GUI for it – many minor features in Windows now require commands to use, and it's annoying to try to type everything perfectly.

  47. It'd be nicer if it was closer to Mac OS X's Recovery partition (automatically started if you can't boot, manually invoked by holing command R at boot time.

    But reset and refresh are very badly named.

    Reset means to erase the hard drive then install windows.

    Refresh means Just install the OS bits again.

    But Mac OS X's also has things like Safari enabled in the recovery partition so you can search the web for solutions to your problem.

    BitLocker is faster because it only has to throw away the encryption keys. Then all the data automatically becomes unreadable.

  48. @Rosyna — I think we've had what you describe for quite some time.  It is automatically started or invoked after an unexpected shutdown or manually (blogs.msdn.com/…/760295.aspx or en.wikipedia.org/…/Windows_Recovery_Environment).  This includes the option of running Windows with networking and IE, without, just a command prompt, and so on.

    In looking at other consumer electronics devices there's not such a consistent terminology and reset, refresh, erase, flash, start over, and so on are all terms used for various implementations.  

  49. Jon DeVaan [Microsoft] -Thank you…that's brilliant….really looking forward to it.

  50. Andrew16 says:

    I'm very excited to this new OS, more powers microsoft!

  51. Sekhar Padikkal says:

    Windows 8 will give sleepless nights for AntiVirus/Antimalware vendors, System Image Software vendors…. Hee hee way to go steven.

    According to me an operating system should be able to atleast manage/maintain itself without the need of third party softwares. This is just the way it should be…..

    Some Feature requests :

    1) Why not a gui tool / option to create image?

  52. Mary Branscombe says:

    Any thoughts on how this will work when a service pack comes out? Will (say) Windows 8 SP1 refresh the original reset and refresh images? After installing an SP will I be prompted to update/slipstream my custom refresh and reset images – without having to strip off apps to get back to the image I want to keep? Indeed, what happens to the refresh and reset images as monthly updates accrete on the system? Are they slipstreamed to the images to make refresh and reset something that stays up to date, or are updates reapplied from the downloads already on the system, or will using refresh or reset mean we then have to download all the updates since GA? I can see pros and cons for all those options…

  53. And how is this system image protected against virusses? I know it's a obvious question, but really, how?

    Like with system restore, the most annoying virusses turn off system restore, making you unable to easily restore your pc and 'remove' the virus. So if the next solution is using refresh or reset, but it puts those images in one default place, how does it prevent a virus from simply removing that image?

    I know you're probably going to say that this virus has to have admin privileges, but can this image ask for higher permission that only Windows (trustedInstaller i believe) can give?

  54. @Mary Branscombe  – It is a loaded question to ask if there are any "thoughts" since of course.  🙂

    Answering directly, the image is static.  That's a big part of the point since it is always known.  That does mean you have to get up to date across the system.  We certainly saw all teh comments about keeping the system up to date for clean installs.  This is a well-known thing and something we (on the team) all personally experience given our rate of new PCs and installations.  This isn't routine by any stretch so…

    Our assumption, as played out by the comments already, is that those that frequently reimage a machine or manage a small group of machines will use the tools described above to create updated images (likely when service packs come out).  So basically do a refresh, update desktop apps or tweak the system load, apply the Windows service pack and new drivers, and then create a new image.  I think the reality is that the desktop side of a custom image will be in need of tweaking independent of WIndows so for the clean installer the approach of "once a year" maintanence will still easily net out as a time saver.  For people who really do refresh for the malware infection/catastrophe the one time "get up to date" is not a crazy cost and certainly in line with how other consumer electronics work.

    For enterprise customers or more managed scenarios, we have offline servicing which is a way to apply updates to images without running the images.  Here's a how-to video technet.microsoft.com/…/ff765025.  

  55. Glenn Töws says:

    I think that this is very nice! Also  the tool and the reset function is very easy to use and cool to, come on microsoft, I want the BETA!!!

  56. xpclient says:

    Brilliant! The Windows team has done a fabulous job with thinking of and covering all the scenarios with reset and refresh yet keeping it simple enough for everyone to reset to their PC. Couldn't have done a better job. I am glad you didn't unify the many methods Windows supports for recovery and troubleshooting as each serves its own purpose (System image VHD backup, System Restore etc) and has evolved significantly over the years.

    1. Isn't what recimg does, already possible with Windows Vista and Windows 7 using imagex? Can you please clarify how recimg differs from imagex functionality which can be used to achieve the same? You can capture the image using imagex and generalize it using sysprep, and then restore it any time complete with desktop apps. Also, does recimg, like imagex only capture the Windows volume? No other volumes right? What if my programs are installed to a Program Files directory on a different volume? For that, I will still have to use System Image (VHD-based) backup?

    2. Okay, so we know the Windows volume will be formatted but just to assure the user that the correct volume is going to be erased and other volumes are going to be left untouched, you should show its volume label before the process is started. For example, "Files on volume 'Windows 8' will be erased'. The more details you give about such a destructive process, the better. I personally was a little apprehensive of trying out this feature especially in a Developer Preview, as even though I have a backup, I was not sure what volumes it would erase, what volumes it would not touch and how it would handle already set-up dual/triple boot configurations. Right now Windows 8 Developer Preview setup ignores my already set-up dual boot between Windows XP and Windows 7, It doesn't automatically add NTLDR-based OSes to its new boot loader. so I guess with the same setup technologies behind Refresh, Reset and recimg, it will also reset my boot configuration every time I Refresh?

    3. There are hundreds of thousands of Windows settings. Please give us a more comprehensive list of what settings are going to be reset when you "Refresh".

    4. recimg.exe has silly limitations in the Developer Preview like you must create a folder before capturing the image. Why can't it just create the folder automatically if one doesn't exist?

    5. The UI for Reset and Refresh is Metro style and it should not be shown on the desktop, it looks so ugly. Only if you are resetting or restoring from the Metro UI/Start Screen should this be shown, otherwise show a proper Aero dialog that fits in with the desktop UI. Do not mix Metro and Aero. It looks out of place and bolted on. See social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/9f496b3a-8c0a-420f-b6fa-33ff3f1b44a8 . Use Metro style UI when on the Start Screen, use Aero style UI when on the desktop.

    Even if you don't answer all questions, please clarify at least #1. How does recimg differ from imagex? Is recimg just a simpler version of what imagex does? Is the image captured with recimg generalized?

  57. Shri Ganesh says:

    This is the single most important update to the windows product line!  Cheers and well done! Thanks for being insightful enough to allow custom captured images to be stored as well!

  58. Rand says:

    I pray to god example linked in xpclient's 5th point is temporary, I can't imagine it's intended to look like that. It's horrendously ugly and looks completely out of place.

  59. MJ says:

    What happens in the case of user initiated reset or refresh for Domain Joined computers?  Presumably the computer account / SID will no longer be valid – and the reset / refreshed machine will no longer be on the domain, and unable to access resources, or pick up group policy.

  60. logan says:

    Does preserving drive letter assignments preserve mapped/network drives along with their saved credentials and removable drive letters assigned based on their serial number?

  61. RP says:

    It looks like these screens fail to represent the seriousness of the actions.  People should be a little bit scared when they are about to lose all the data (and maybe even when they are about to lose all their desktop apps, since reinstalling can be considerable work if they have a lot of them and haven't made a disk image).  I hope some sort of clearer warning comes up apart from the above screens – I'd be tempted to use some red instead of just green, and the word "lost", perhaps in capitals.

    As others said, "reset" and "refresh" do sound rather harmless.  Resetting used to be a synonym for rebooting, and refreshing normally means pressing F5.  You might be helping someone use Internet Explorer over the phone, you suggest refreshing, and the next thing you know they're losing some of their settings and reinstalling most of their apps… OK, not very likely, but should the terms really be so overloaded?

  62. Dear,

    This is indeed a nice feature but please don't forget your enterprise customers.

    Many of them already have some sort of 'refresh scenario' in place based upon solutions such as SCCM and MDT.

    This means that they might need some kind of integration or the ability to launch their existing solution from the same interface.

    Customization might also be required, for example in my company we've custom PE images and custom migration files for USMT.

    Some companies might also require this feature to be completely disabled or only available after approval.

    Also know that in enterprise scenario's network connection (not wireless or 3G) and access to the domain are crucial while in a standalone scenario an internet connection is only optional.

    I believe most enterprises will continue to use SCCM and MDT (UDI) as this offers the most flexibility but it would be nice if they could integrate that solution into Windows 8, so that the user experience is the same for users at home and at work.

    Thanks in advance,

    Kris

  63. Windows 8 Enthusiast says:

    @Steven  Dude seriously give us the beta. Its 2012. We have waited enough. Waiting for CES 2012 for the beta. Dont disappoint us.

    Also please write about the Kinect integration of Windows 8. The whole world is waiting to control their pcs with the swish of their hands.

  64. This looks quite promising, but I agree with xpclient: please provide a bit more detail on what settings are preserved during a "Refresh".

    I feel this is important because some might want to "refresh" their PC because the Registry got corrupted, for instance. So it would be important to know which part of it is preserved, so the user may know whether the operation will fix the problem or not.

  65. "Reset" is a poor name choice. "Reset" has been used for decades now in PC lingo for an entirely different thing.

    As for Metro, still ugly and unnecessary in a PC.

  66. Windows 7 says:

    Another great feature wasted on this crazy Metro 1.0 OS, aka Windows 8.

    I do hope it gets added to Windows 7 SP2, so serious PC users can benefit.

  67. far says:

    nice post!!!

    like others said reset is a kinda small word for something this big, imagine wiping all my tera filled hard disk like this,  reset factory settings should be better and in red font….

    Also, a few question,

    1. would a password /picture password prompt be required to do that, i guess it should

    2. would it ask the user to input the product key and activate windows  again?? i hope not…

    3 does that mean there is a fresh copy of windows installation inside my windows folder stored somethere? if yes, how much gb will it be , same for the system image, where and how much it will use in terms of Gb, can it or can it be removed so that we use our windows disc instead to reset or refresh.

    4. what about drivers and windows update, will we lose that too? if we refresh.

  68. @xpclient

    Regarding recimg, there are a few differences between what it does and similar procedures involving ImageX. A few points worth highlighting:

    1. Recimg makes use of volume snapshots so that an image can be captured while Windows is running. ImageX, on the other hand, is typically used while booted into the Windows Preinstallation Environment.

    2. Images captured using recimg are intended to be used for refreshing the same PC they’re created on, so they are not sysprep generalized. Images created using ImageX, after generalizing it with sysprep, are typically intended to be deployed onto multiple PCs such as in managed IT environments.

    3. Recimg does not capture user profiles or data, just Windows and desktop apps (more on this below), as images created are only used for the Refresh functionality, where your data will not be affected. For the more traditional “Back up absolutely everything on the hard drive” needs, creating a System Image backup is still the way to go.

    Desktop apps that are installed onto a different volume won't be captured when using recimg. However, any registration/association information stored in Windows will be; so long as the apps haven’t be removed (or significantly changed) after image creation, they should continue to function after you refresh the PC. And if you do install new desktop apps that you really want to work with the baseline image, you can always rerun recimg to capture an updated image.

    In Windows 8 Beta, if you use recimg to capture an image and save it to a folder that doesn’t already exist, the tool will create the folder automatically for you.

    On the topic of which volumes get formatted when you reset a PC with multiple volumes, one of the options in the experience allows you to choose between the volume with (the currently running copy of) Windows only and all volumes. On that screen, there’s a link for displaying the list of volumes that will be formatted if you want to choose the latter. As for the boot configuration settings, if you perform a Refresh on a multi-boot system, only the settings related to Windows 8 will be touched, and you’ll still be able to boot to Windows XP and/or Windows 7 that are already installed.

  69. You keep mentioning about how Metro-style apps can be restored and not desktop apps. I think we all need some more clarity on how a .appx file can be used to install an application that works best in a desktop or windows environment. Not all applications should be run full-screen or Metro-style. Take Visual Studio for example. That clearly isn't a Metro-style app, but it seems reasonable that is should be installable via an .appx file so that it can be restored on a Refresh.

  70. Ian says:

    Is there an easy way to get Windows 8 to the way it was before the OEM added all their bits?   Often I don’t want their “added value”.   Now that most systems don’t ship with OS disks, reinstalling from the OS disks is not even an option.

  71. Tuxplorer says:

    These are fantastic features indeed. But I have one question regarding the "Reset" feature. I have My Documents and Pictures folders in drive D. If I "Reset" my PC, will all those documents and picture also get erased?

  72. Dan says:

    I agree with everyone saying that the terms "reset" and "refresh" do not convey the seriousness of what the actions are. Particularly "reset" which is going to get confused with "restarting the PC."

    I'm not talking about technically-literate people here. I'm talking about the average user and I can forsee getting calls from users saying all their applications have disappeared because they tried to reset their computer and didn't realise what they were doing.

    Also, "reset" and "refresh" are too similar and don't convey the differences between each other well. I can also see people getting confused as to which is whicj=h. I know you provide added descriptions to explain this, but you have to understand most users don't read that extra text and click "yes" to all prompt that appear without reading them. The initial label needs to be very clear, as that's all most will bother reading.

    I agree with the other poster who suggested using "Factory Reset" as a term, as that is used so frequently that most people already understand it.

  73. Björn says:

    Hi,

    Realy like to new features but what about migrating to new machine? In Windows 7 you have the supernice feature to backup to an image and then I can restore this to the new machine. Please make sure you still have this option.

    Björn

  74. Nya says:

    Am curious as to why Metro app's are exempt from the reset? surely a HTML app is going to be an ideal hiding hole for malware to sit and be safe after the user resets in this case? Or are the integration of the on-board AV tools going to scan these before a reset etc?

  75. xpclient says:

    @Desmond Lee, many thanks for clearing that up. I see being able to create an image using volume snapshots instead of booting into WinPE is then a significant enhancement. Thanks. I guess these images can also be generalized using sysprep. Now I only wish MS would please create a UI pleasurable to use instead of sticking a Metro style UI on top of Aero desktop.

  76. Win 8 Tester says:

    How about allowing users (or IT admin) to select which settings to refresh?  (Maybe via checkboxes)

  77. Jeff says:

    @Nya

    Metro apps are exempt for multiple reasons:

    1) They are running in a sandbox.

    2) Their processes are automatically suspended when they aren't in the foreground. Hard to wreak havoc on a system when you have 0 CPU cycles.

    3) All Metro apps will have to be approved by Microsoft before being put on the Windows Store, which is the only place to find Metro apps publicly.

    4) Since when are HTML apps a source of malware? Regardless, Metro apps can be remotely killed off computers by Microsoft if they are a source of malware, Desktop apps cannot.

    As such, Metro apps have an implicitly higher level of trust compared to desktop apps.

  78. Klimax says:

    @xpclient 5 Jan 2012 7:30 AM:

    You still don't get it. There is nothing "on top". There are two distinct and separate GUIs for x86 – Metro and Aero+ (updated). Both resides in their own modules and are independent. (more or less ; we'll see in beta how much)

    Only ARM has just Metro.

    BTW:This was already explained by team…

  79. LucAce says:

    While this feature does have its uses, it also seems too easy to delete all of a users data accidentally.  Meaning the bar to delete all of your data should not be a low one.  Unlike phones and tablets (traditionally) the PC is a data hub, where things get sync'd too and the data there is much more meaningful than on your phone/table. Smart users will have backups of their PCs, but that backup might not always be current.  I would like to see 2 feature additions, one to disable it which is useful for corporate environments (where you don't want the users destroying data or wasting time) and to families with 2 years that like to click random things. The other change is to make the user work at it a bit.  Something like requiring the user to type in a 16 character random string.   Keeping in mind there are always unintended consequences to things.  If you need proof I can't lock my phone with a password because if I do my 2 year is only a couple clicks away from calling 911, which has happened.  In my case It is actually better to not lock it then I don't risk having the cops show up at my front door.  A couple simple clicks and your data is all gone seems like a bad idea.

    Also how are multiple drives handled?  If I have two physical drives say where Windows is and another where I store data outside of the traditional locations (My Documents, etc) are those effected as well?

    I think a safer approach my be to only allow users to do this from the recovery console during boot up then from within windows itself.

  80. xpclient says:

    @Klimax, go to the desktop Control Panel (not the Metro one). Now open "Recovery". Click "Get Started" from either Reset or Refresh sections. What do you see? Mixture of Aero and Metro styles. Now, was that so hard to understand? 🙂 Let me show a screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/55T9S.png

  81. @Steven Sinofsky

    No, that's quite different. The "Safe Mode" thing has been there for a while.

    Yes, Mac OS X is an evolution of Windows Recovery partition. However, Lion's recovery does not require external media to access and it uses an extremely small partition. (Since Lion is distributed only over the internets, when you "refresh" or 'reset" it always downloads the latest bits, with all the fixes and security updates).

  82. After launch of Windows developer preview MS has updated the builds so many times. dev. pre has a build no 8102 and MS has updated it to 8149 so why don't MS gives the update to testers via windows update or web download so they can see the new improvements in the new builds and also give a blog or webpage platform to share the new ideas by testers and windows users

  83. N. Sun says:

    Is it possible to change the color of the refresh/reset options? For example, it would be the same as your Windows theme color? That green looks just a bit drab.

  84. mvadu says:

    Thank yo Windows team for taking little steps in the right direction..

    Only if it had an easier way to update the static image, say today I install fresh copy of Windows 8, install all updates, SP etc.I also install basic "must have" desktop applications (like Visual Studio, Photoshop etc).  Now I create a static image for future restores.

    A month later I will have some user files as well now. Like couple of VS projects, few GB's of images etc. How can add them to static image. I don't want to create a new image altogether since I may have installed few unnecessary apps, and those are not needed for the Image. At the same time I don't want to lose all new user data when I have to reset after a glitch. May be we need some hybrid of Refresh/Reset. So complete reset using a static image while retaining some part of user data/app data intact like refresh.

  85. bill says:

    You better set up the Reset so that all the Crapware and Bloatware is NOT reloaded from any of the manufacturers.

  86. @Steven Sinofsky This is great functionality, but as said @Václav Dajbych and I previously expected from Windows 8, there should be new way how to install and manage classical applications. The new Marketplace is cool, but I still will have to install some applications in classical way, find installation packages, install and then use application specific updater to update this application. I see in this moment 2 ways:

    1. Extend the way classical applications are distributed; I don't expect that each poor quality app can be distributed via Marketplace, but some of them should be and at least bring some kind of unified update API to get rid of "strange" application specific updaters.

    2. Extend Metro Apps model and WinRT to allow building of windowed applications. First, I would like to say, that I love Metro UI and its principles. But still I don't think that you should force developers and users to build/use only fullscreen applications. There is a simple solution – allow developer to say in configuration of WinRT application – This application can run in a Window. UI layout has to be flexible, because even in fullscreen Metro there are different orientations and screen resolutions, so applications won't have problems with this and the benefit will be, from developer's point of view: No additional efforts required to build nice window apps (seriously, If I want publish my cool metro app as windowed I have to rewrite it to Silverlight/WPF where is no metro template so it is pretty hard work) and from user's point of view I will get more handy application. Fullscreen is great for tablets, why should I waste my Full HD screen for one running app? I can put there 4-6 apps in windows looking so cool as current Zune 4.8 client and I will be happy. Please make it happen, this would be really cool.

    Thank you for reading this and considering at least the second point with WinRT windowed apps.

  87. Irfanfare says:

    Does Refesh work only when WDP is the default OS in a dual boot scenario ?

    Can you please look at my question at the WDP General OS Forum, I was directed to post it here. The link is: social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/36294fb2-0ea3-4b18-9370-35464076ccb9

  88. @Rosyna We optimized our approach so that you can always recover, even if it means you also will need to download some updates.  The OS X approach requires a significant commitment in time, disk space, and bandwidth in order to execute.  It isn't clear if it is always up to date or not–I haven't tried it out and checked the documentation that isn't clear (it does provide notes on how to add iLife, so it might be up  to date but not complete).  There's merit in both approaches (assuming the up to date feature, but if that's not there then it seems to be a slow recovery process).  My experience has been that a required recovery doesn't always coincide with available time and bandwidth.

  89. Pranav says:

    The music player tile occupies large part of the canvas just to dis play the song and whether it is paused or not..if the left end of the music tile is used for pause/play and next song controls it would be nice…and efficient

  90. Hello MicroSoft,

    First of all, I doubt whether my comments are relevant to this post. Nevertheless, I want to get it posted amid controversies and different views.

    1. Many comments have been posted about the Metro UI for Desktop so far. And, some users feel that it doesn't have that much user-friendly as much as it does in Tablets. What MS is going to do about it ? Any separate versions of windows is gonna shipped for those 'anti-metro' users ?

    2. Windows OS is widely used in PC's. And when it comes to tablet or mobile/smart phones, iOS and Android are dominating the market. If Windows team approaches desktop users with it's so-called 'Metro UI', I believe google is going to take this opportunity to take the market over. Why MS don't understand this simple fact ? And, I believe if google debuts to desktop market with it's OS, I strongly believe it would be 100 times better that windows. Hence, no one can stop people using it.

    3. So, 2012 has come and MS has released a service pack and lot of patches for W7. And, I and my friends/colleagues use windows 7 and feel it is the finest windows OSes yet in-terms of usability. But, when we(me and my friends) try a simple file search(which is included in index locations), it takes really lot of time. I mean, hell lot of time. Look around you. Softwares like AvaFind(A small but powerful software-released before several years) will yield the required file within seconds. Look at Windows search which uses unnecessarily lot of resources and memory. When this is gonna change ?

    Sorry if my words look rude.

  91. K says:

    Does reset wipe out all the partitions?

  92. And, please demo your features in desktop, for the sake of people who use windows.

  93. site jumper says:

    This sounds great BUT ….

    Do you really think that I will install & use Metro apps ?

    The answer is NO WAY because:

    – Metro apps are full screen apps

    – And I am a "Windows" user on desktops and laptops.

    Windows 8 will therefore probably never come on my machines.

  94. Josh G. says:

    There needs to be an option to restore to default Windows settings. Jon DeVaan's comment indicates that this is currently not the case, and that OEMs will be able to "customize" (read: cram with crapware) the restore image. We don't want OEM nonsense; we want a clean Windows image!

  95. @site jumper

    I agree. I've been trying to say the same thing. But, MS never understands.

  96. @thehaloplayer

    Microsoft should provide us solution to build and run windowed metro apps. Fullscreen apps on desktops are just waste of space and users will solve this by not using metro apps if possible and of course they will complain about Window 8, even if it is good desktop OS.

  97. B.C. says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    What is the security for the hidden partition?  It seems like malware that has administrator priviledges can unhide the hidden partition, and put whatever it wants there.  It seems like a clever malware writer might encourage you to do a restore — all you'd be doing is putting a fresh copy of the malware right back on.  (They can put arbitrary code on the restore partition… nice .jpgs to make it look like it's restoring the system… until it requires your credit card to do so!)

  98. @David:

    Exactly. Although Windows 8 has significant features and improvements(so far added in this blog), It would be overshadowed by Metro, thus making users to  refuse the whole product.

  99. Bullshit says:

    Picture "password", reset button, metro style tweet-o-ramas. Is it some kind of a joke?

    Steven it's BULLSHIT!

  100. Sean Kearon says:

    Very nice.  If only reinstalling Office, Zune, Visual Studio, etc. could be automated too…

  101. CypherBit says:

    I'm wondering how do both these features, esp. refresh work in a domain environment are there any caveats?

  102. Stefan says:

    Personalize means i decide what to use in an OS; the looks, the features and so on. Good, then let me remove metroUI completely during install, then i am prepared to give Windows 8 a chance. Else – it stay off my PC's.

  103. Re Recimg.exe. I ran a few commands like 'fsutil dirty set C:' and 'net stop winmgmt /y & del /q .wbemrepository*', just to see if Recimg would pass the stupid test. It did (exiting with hex codes). What sort of system state/integrity testing is recimg running to insure the validty of the images it creates? Would it, as examples, happily create an image of a Windows volume that would have been found to have errors by tools like SURT (CheckSUR), SFC, Chkdsk or Winmgmt? Or have PendingFileRenameOperations? Should we run a malware scan before building an image? Is the file exclusion list extensible? Will an -append switch be added so the install.wim can contain multiple images, from which the user can choose when running a reset or refresh?

    "To ensure that Refresh is both effective in fixing problems and in making sure customers don’t lose settings that they might have trouble reconfiguring, we’ve thought a great deal about which settings to preserve." "We will continue to enhance and tune both lists over time based on how we see the feature being used in the Developer Preview and Beta."

    Could we possibly get a detailed list of what's included and excluded, preferably with reasons? Re Display settings, what do you mean by 'misconfigured'? What will you set to instead – native resolution and maximum refresh?

    @WindowsVista567: "A command line tool can be useful, but no one will find it if there is no GUI for it – many minor features in Windows now require commands to use, and it's annoying to try to type everything perfectly."

    Many admins, informal ones too, will find out about it and use it, sans a GUI. However, you have a point. Searching for 'restore', 'recovery' or 'image' gave me no hits for recimg. Searching 'recimg' returned 'recimg'. Clicking this took me to the Desktop! Microsoft, entering the command 'help <command>' should open  %windir%helpcommands<command>.h1s in a window adjacent to the cmd/PS console, as should touching the <command> Metro search result item.

    @Jon DeVaan [Microsoft]: "The original reset and refresh image will be prepared by the OEM."

    A problem here is that many OEMs continue to use sector-based imaging tools, partly for their speed/time advantage. (File versus sector-based imaging discussed @ windowsteamblog.com/…/improving-your-image-sector-based-file-based-and-sysprep-what-makes-the-most-sense-part-2-the-pros-and-cons.aspx). Does this mean that most end-users are not going to have access to the reset and refresh features (because no install.wim file is available), unless they have run the recimg command?

    Re the terminology. 'Refresh' means redone, with crud removed. Cleaned up. Not enough gravitas for the outcome it refers to in this case. Frankly, how can you possibly call a feature 'Refresh your PC', when that feature results in the unavoidable nuking of all desktop apps? The word you want is 'regenerate'. I would make;

    Refresh your PC =  Regenerate System | System Regeneration

    This sounds more like a ground-up rebuild of fundamental components that does not necessarily imply the end result state will be identical to what is current. As for 'Reset your PC', its not so much the terminology, as the *location* of this feature that's concerning. It should not exist side-by-side with 'Refresh your PC', but should be an advanced option *within* 'Refresh your PC', relabelled something like; '[ ] Permanently remove all user data, non-factory supplied Programs, and system configuration. Note: Windows will remain activated.' I would not refer to this as 'decommissioning', as that implies securely wiping all disks, and then NOT reimaging (this perhaps should be another advanced option).

    "Resetting your PC can take you back to square one if you encounter a problem, but that’s clearly a very heavy weight solution, something you’d only do as a last resort."

    There is a case for the reset feature to be removed from Windows entirely, and only be made available within the Recovery Environment. If you can boot Windows normally, logon to your normal shell and run an app called 'Reset your PC' successfully, then the one thing you absolutely do not need to do is; reset your PC. However, some folks will, regardless of the textual-only warnings, and this will often cause more much grief than it resolves. Microsoft, please bury this feature a little deeper, or offer it only via WinRE.

    "And second, we do not want to inadvertently reinstall “bad” apps that were installed unintentionally or that hitched a ride on something good but left no trace of how they were installed."

    Hopefully features like reset and refresh won't halt more direct progress toward a more secure OS, and perhaps that progress might include preventing the absurdity of unsigned code getting access to auto-start locations. social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/7933d991-27d3-4628-a79a-a6875c802c54

    "It is also important to understand that we cannot deterministically replace desktop apps, as there are many installer technologies as well as custom setup and configuration logic, of which Windows has little direct knowledge."

    What happens to apps installed into %localappdata%Programs  – do they get excluded from the image too, even though installed within users profiles?

    "If you do need to reinstall some desktop apps after you refresh your PC, we save the list of apps that were not preserved in an HTML file, and put this list on the desktop, so you have a quick way to see what you might need to reinstall and where to find them."

    It is even more unfortunate now that Windows does not stage program install sources like it stages driver packages. When UAC detects an installer, an option to stage the installation files should work something like this:

    1. UAC prompts for elevation, due to <Path><detectedInstaller>.exe

    2. Prompt includes checkbox to stage install files (default: checked)

    3. On confirm of elevation, recursively copy <Path> to:

    %ProgramFiles%~Sources<Vendor><Program>[<Version>]

    In the 'Refresh your PC' context:

    4. On restart after Refresh, display 'Program and Features' CPL@Removed Apps

    5. For each program name, user can click [Reinstall] or [Delete] button

    Btw, regarding the building of 'Removed Apps.html', there are people who have gone to a lot of trouble to programatically create lists of installed apps, such as forum.sysinternals.com/finding-all-installed-programs-from-the-registry_topic21312.html Are you going to make this functionality more generally available, perhaps in a new command?

  104. Bryan S. says:

    Interested to see how this works for those of us that build custom PCs. My machines never have a "restore partition" and usually, i delete them right from HP or Dell because it will restore a computer with bloatware and none of what I actually want.

  105. " It's not a but it's a feature" ….. are you kidding me ? You should do OS that don't need to be reinstalled when loaded with stuff I use all 3 OS'es that are here that is linux, os x, and windows. Dam only your OS must be reinstalled by normal users each year.

  106. Confused says:

    Refresh, reset, restart, restore, reboot…  Miss the old days when windows was not so confusing.

  107. @Drewfus —

    "It is even more unfortunate now that Windows does not stage program install sources like it stages driver packages. When UAC detects an installer, an option to stage the installation files should work something like this…."

    Unfortunately, one can't simply make a copy of the install source and hope for the same outcome reliably.  While the model we currently support is incredibly flexible and powerful, there are limitations that we set out to address with Metro style applications.  There's no way to refit the new architecture on the existing model because of the nature of the current architecture.  

    While it might work well for some scenarios to simply have a copy of the install source and to reinstall that copy, that doesn't generalize.  The current installation model supports running any code at time of installation.  This code can do things based on the current machine state, ping a server and change the installation based on that, or take any other conditional action based on any of a wide variety of variables (to name a few things).  Because of that, the model you propose is not going to lead to a deterministic post-reset state.  

    While it might be the equivalent of what you will do manually, and you might find it works for you, there are too many scenarios where it doesn't work.  Take for example one where a label printer has software that installs drivers, plus a label app, plus an add-in for Outlook.  If you happen to install this software before Outlook is installed then you will not get back the add-in support in Outlook.  (This is a real example that happened to me recently) There's no way to know this in advance.  You might then suggest "install things in the same time order, since ARP has the install time" but then what if the test is not just the presence of Outlook but looks for the default mail handler and you had not yet run Outlook and set it to be that because you were just running through an installing everything (or you had taken a break and ran Windows Mail first just to check mail in the middle of the reimage).  Or, as another example, even any device that installs drivers but expects the device to be unplugged before installing the software.  Ordering semantics is just one aspect of this problem.  The general case is the conditional capabilities of install and matching the state of the machine at the original install and the reset install.

    I'm certain a lot of energy can be spent trying to find all teh edge cases and defensively code around them.  I know many can be found, but by definition find all of them can't be found and the ones that are missed will be missed with unknown side effects.  That's the nature of the reliance on a "stateful execution engine" for setup rather than just deployment of files and a data driven approach.  That is why we don't recomment the brute force tool approach to either uninstall or reinstall.

    This is a case where what has long been a capability of Windows that provides rich functionality is due for a reimagining where we can look at what changes in the "environment" would cause us to make different choices about the design.  Of course we also keep all of these existing APIs running on x86/64 Windows and fully support those apps and all of the new funcitonality that surrounds the desktop apps that we've talked about on the blog (and more).  I don't think this should surprise folks as the way software is acquired, deployed, and managed has dramatically changed since the 90's when the current installer technology was developed.  We don't take changes like this lightly, but having a lot of personal experience with installer technology I feel we understand the capabilities of this area well enough to know the limitations (the Windows Installer was originally a project in Office 2000 started in 1997 or so!)

    Our goal with this feature is to work reliably and universally, rather than to have a design that makes an implicit commitment we cannot have the knowledge to support.  Wiht the model for Metro style apps we are taking our experience with app installation, deployment, and management and putting it to work in the architecture for WinRT.  

  108. One thing I've not really understood in recent years, considering Microsoft's investment in virtualisation technology and their experience with embedded OS implementations (WinCE, etc) is why;

    a) the operating system files and registry keys – what you'd get using recimage anyway – could not be treated as an isolated environment, untouchable by anything other than Windows updates and official Microsoft updates, which puts it all in a known state. The OS on my computer should appear like a smartphone OS. It's made to appear like "firmware" that can be reset to at any stage. And on smartphones, when you install the next version (or update, service pack, etc), you can reset your device and it will keep that state. Surely Windows can operate this way. Why, you ask? Because…

    b) If you can isolate the OS from the user-installed "stuff", then performing a "reset" or "refresh" is just a matter of returning to the OS layer… much like what you do when you hard reset/wipe a smartphone. All OS patches/updates are present, but anything "not original" is removed. This completely removes the need to perform re-installs of the OS, avoids the need for a "Windows.old" folder, and will massively decrease the time needed to restore a system.

    c) To cater for the current "keep settings" restoration methods, how about invoking some of the hypervisor technology here. I've had experience with both virtual machines, virtualised applications, and virtual disks. All could be employed here to make things easier. You see, the but the user environment, application settings and installations, etc, could all just be virtualised layers.

    I am extremely excited by virtualised applications and layers. I first had exposure to this with "Altiris Software Virtualisation Solution" (SVS) and later the v1 of "VMWare ThinApp". Now we have a variety of other solutions including the free "Cameyo" product. These allow me to install a software package and, although it looks to be 100% part of the system now, it's actually entirely isolated in it's own layer. Heck… Windows Vista/7 already do this with the "VirtualStore" inside user profiles for when applications try to write to privileged locations. Why can't this be expanded?

    Just thinking, it would be much easier to "migrate user settings" if you simply have to close, back up and then restore the "virtual layer" that it actually resides in (instead of all their files and folders). You can still use filters to ensure that potential "bad" settings that you don't want restored are pushed into a "volatile" part of the layer that will not be backed up. Heck… removing a user and all their changes, in this scenario, would just be a function of deactivating and removing the "layer" it resides in. if one user stuffs up a multi-user computer, you can purge the user layer to allow the rest to continue using the system WITHOUT a need to reset the computer. And, as I stated before, if you do need to "restore" Windows (a "Reset"), you could just remove all layers and return to the base psuedo-firmware OS state (base layer).

    Using application isolation and virtualisation also makes removing a bad application a snap – just deactivate and delete the layer that it installed into. If each application, it's files and registry keys, etc, were all in a layer (a process of starting a "capture" process on an installation request)… then you remove (further) DLL Hell, depenancy issues, etc and allow a MUCH better "Uninstall a program" feature. As a bonus, your "back up and restore" process could allow users to transport desktop application (optionally) by transporting the layers after a reinstall..

    Surely relying on flat file-systems and re-installs is painfully outdated when you have so much investment in hypervisor technology now.

  109. @Steven Sinofsky – Thanks very much for the detailed reply to my comments. Much appreciated.

    For the sake of completeness (and in case anyone wanted to quote me), the ordered list at the end of my last comment missed a step. Please regard steps 4 and 5, as 5 and 6 instead, and step 4 is;

    4. Include "%ProgramFiles[(x86)]%~Sources*" in the backup and restore

    "There's no way to refit the new architecture on the existing model because of the nature of the current architecture."

    Understood. No argument there.

    "The current installation model supports running any code at time of installation.  This code can do things based on the current machine state… Because of that, the model you propose is not going to lead to a deterministic post-reset state." "Take for example one where a label printer has software that installs drivers, plus a label app, plus an add-in for Outlook.  If you happen to install this software before Outlook is installed then you will not get back the add-in support in Outlook."

    Ok, lets make the removed apps list ordering a little more sophisticated. Firstly, divide the apps list into install priorities:

    1. Microsoft Office or MSO standalones (if exists) + web browsers

    2. Default Program apps (except MSO and built-ins)

    3. Standard (default) priority

    4. Known child apps. Plugins/addins. Apps that include addins for other apps.

    Once grouped, sort the groups by priority, and sort within the groups by install time.

    "…what if the test is not just the presence of Outlook but looks for the default mail handler and you had not yet run Outlook and set it to be that…"

    This problem could potentially be eliminated by:

    1. Backing-up default program preferences when 'Restart your PC' commences. This would include the default mailto handler.

    2. Restoring these preferences early on first boot after the WinRE stage.

    3. Configuring 'Programs and Features@Removed Apps' so users deterministically install Office and default program apps before any other apps.

    4. If a default program app is not (re)installed (from groups 1 or 2), reset the associated default program value to the Windows default, before continuing.

    Determining membership of groups 1 and 2 is easy. 4 is the only group difficult to populate, but not strictly necessary, because by their nature these apps are almost always installed after their parent app. The Outlook addin example is one exception (fixed by the priority scheme). Another might be an app that has a partial dependency for some of its functionality, as a few apps have for the JRE. These apps *might* need install priority 4 (and JRE, 3). Otherwise, the only purpose of categorizing apps as child apps or plugins/addons, is to remove "noise" from 'Programs and Features@Removed Apps'. As apps were installed, the CPL would continuously reenumerate the list of installed apps and remove (or grey-out) apps from the list presented to the user (@Removed Apps). This of itself would be far preferable from the end-users PoV, who is otherwise going to be faced with a web page containing a long list of app names, many of which can be ignored as they are child apps automatically installed by the parent app, but the confused/frustrated/stressed end-user will often be unaware of this.

    This scheme alone should go a long way to eliminating machine state/dependency issues, and Microsoft's vast app knowledge base would probably enable further optimizations to be made. An App like Windows Live Essentials should either be intelligent enough to download a later version of itself (ignoring the staged source), or, the CPL might do this if the apps' Uninstall key pointed to a permanent update link (Ex: UpdateURL=g.live.com/…/wlsetup-all.exe). A few points are worth noting here:

    1. It is quite conceivable that with these sorting heuristics in place, the outcome would be *superior* to the machine state prior to the refresh, in terms of app/plugin functionality and integration (and therefore a possible additional motivation for an end-user to use the refresh feature).

    2. The machine state after this process might not be identical to the pre-refresh state (excepting non-reinstalled apps), but what reason is there to suppose the outcome would be poorer, compared to the alternative of users manually relocating install sources (if they can), and installing apps from a list in whatever order was deemed appropriate?

    3. None of this would aid end-users in relocating product keys. It might be a nice touch to allow users to store product key strings in a secure location via 'Programs and Features', and include that store in the refresh backup. This feature would not be dependent on the apps themselves, and would therefore be a plausible addition.

    4. Even if the entire argument for augmenting the 'Programs and Features' CPL were rejected, the value to end-users of staging app install sources still exists. Compare; a list of removed apps versus the same list plus a folder with the install source for all or most of the apps in the list. No contest.

    The augmented CPL and staged app sources model would even have benefits for the Metro app market. Including:

    1. For a given app, the vendor might have an exact or close Metro style equivalent. For these apps, a text link and/or Windows Store icon link could be included in the app record. The user could chose to install the Metro style app in lieu of the classic app (which then disappears from the list). For classic apps with no vendor-equivalent Store app, a category link might be appropriate. Other than their inherent strengths, what better way to transition the world from classic to Metro style apps?

    2. The high cost to an end-user of losing all their classic apps in the refresh process, and not having easy access to sources, nor installation aides, might dissuade the user from running 'Refresh your PC' entirely, and to grudgingly accept whatever problems the machine might have (stability and performance issues, malware infection, etc). This would have the affect of degrading the perceived value of the platform (Windows) to the machines' users, and anyone who observes the problems or hears the complaints. (This would be exaccerbated if user A does a refresh and users B, C, … cannot find their install sources – possibly leading to personal conflicts.) This results in undermining the Metro app market, as an unfortunate side affect.

    "Or, as another example, even any device that installs drivers but expects the device to be unplugged before installing the software."

    My experience is that this sort of software prompts the user to remove the device before commencing the driver install, but regardless, I don't understand why this creates a problem for the model proposed, given that the user is not more likely to not remove the device before the install commences than otherwise. On the contrary, the users frame of mind is likely to be improved vis-à-vis the alternate, and therefore more likely to avoid these sorts of installation gotchas.

    "Ordering semantics is just one aspect of this problem.  The general case is the conditional capabilities of install and matching the state of the machine at the original install and the reset install."

    Why exactly is it absolutely necessary to replicate the machine state pre-refresh in every detail? What is so important and/or valid about the pre-refresh state that it absolutely must be maintained, and why not consider that the post-reinstalls state might be functionally equivalent, for all intents and purposes? If you mean the reinstall state of apps might conflict with existing HKLMSoftware entries or %localappdata%, then the argument applies equally to fully manual reinstalls.

    "I'm certain a lot of energy can be spent trying to find all teh edge cases and defensively code around them.  I know many can be found, but by definition find all of them can't be found and the ones that are missed will be missed with unknown side effects."

    What is wrong with taking a 'best effort' approach? Are the missed edge cases likely to cause so much grief as to make the whole concept not worthwhile? I doubt most users would think so.

    Re complaints about OEM "crapware". There is a conceivable scenario here. The OEM's install.wim contains two images. Index 1 has description "Base image" and contains no OEM software. However, the source files for the OEM's apps (that are installed in index 2) are staged to "%ProgramFiles%~Sources", and, possibly listed under @Removed Apps. Index 2 includes the "crapware" and has description "Build-to-order image". During a refresh/restart, the user can choose either index #. If index 1, the user can install any of the OEM software, at any time (or possibly by first downloading a later version, via the mechanism mentioned above), by accessing the staged sources, via @Removed Apps.

    "Our goal with this feature is to work reliably and universally, rather than to have a design that makes an implicit commitment we cannot have the knowledge to support.  Wiht the model for Metro style apps we are taking our experience with app installation, deployment, and management and putting it to work in the architecture for WinRT."

    An admirable goal and to be appreciated, for sure. However, lets consider Office, Microsoft's flagship app product and unlikely to be made into a Metro style app in the near future. Office already stages its install sources to MSOCache. I haven't checked if this folder is included in an image created by recimg. If it is, then users who create their own image containing their own Office installation will be creating an image that removes Office, but contains the Office source files, but with no GUI access to Office setup.exe. The 'Programs and Features@Removed Apps' could be used to overcome this problem.

  110. Mike says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    will the Windows Installer get a small update that the installer itself gets a more touch friendly wizard for future version. bigger buttons etc.

    would be appreciate

  111. Brian says:

    This looks like a fantastic set of technologies, and totally mirrors what I do with a new Windows PC.  First thing on my schedule is to install and configure all my apps, and then immediately image the PC.  It's like you read my mind!

    The refresh and reset look like neat options as well. My only concern would be how good they really are. I'd hate to see lost data as a result of a bug in the reset algorithm.  It would also be heartbreaking for a user to lose data because of getting mixed up between a refresh and reset.  

  112. Will MS Dos work in full screen ? I mean, atleast like a normal windows application ?

    Vista released in 2006, but no improvement yet.

  113. jailbreakstation says:

    This is really a great feature coz many time we may need to refresh the windows and worry about the existing data… Thanks Microsoft for caring us.

  114. I have successfully tried the Recimg tool to create the install wim file but I have not got no clue what am I supposed to do with it next.  I need to know how exactly  can use for restore purposes. Otherwise it's completely useless. I expect some further explanation.

  115. Farina says:

    How will this integrate with Windows Home Server? Am I to assume that WHS is going away?

  116. abdo boutahar says:

    im ealrady posted a toturial about how you can reset or refresh your windows 8 and post many other toturials too…..and still learning and add to my blog at same time to hep all for this+some product key for reset and refresh.

    you can take a look here to see it:full-windows8.blogspot.com/…/product-keys-to-test-resetrefresh.html

  117. JaviAl says:

    Never seen an ugly and horrible user interface like this Metro UI.

  118. xsyr says:

    Microsoft, please add in windows 8 native support for Bluetooth A2DP.