Windows 8 will help you refresh and reset your PC easily

Microsoft have updated their Windows 8 development blog.

Today, they are talking about refreshing and resetting your PC – a task that has driven many sober end users to alcohol.

As usual, they lay out the post very meticulously by stating the problem definition, their objectives and how they actually handle the problem.

In addition, they show a few new screens from Windows 8 Beta.

So the Objectives..

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.

The solution

Our solution in Windows 8 consists of two related features:

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

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.

They also talk about some of the new options for restoring, repairing and refreshing your PC.

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.

And importantly, they let you set a baseline for the refresh:

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:

  • Go through the Windows first-run experience to configure basic settings.
  • Install your favorite desktop apps (or uninstall things you don’t want).
  • Configure the machine exactly as you would like it.
  • 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.

The post also had some really good screenshots of the Windows 8 RE tool from Windows 8 Beta

And a video that explains the concept in detail…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgFHLJkvQ30

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