To keep up with the Joneses (and the Apples), Microsoft will ship Windows 8 with two options that allow users to either reinstall the operating system while keeping key data intact (refresh), or revert it back to a bare factory default state (reset).
The fact that most new devices grant users the ability to wipe the slate clean and start over led the company to include similar options in Windows 8, said Desmond Lee, Fundamentals team program manager.
Inspired by the simple one-button push method, he revealed the four steps a PC running Windows 8 will go through during a reset:
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.
Obsessive users who fear sensitive information may still be recoverable post-reset can tweak the process to both reformat the hard drive and write in random patterns, explained Lee, making data retrieval difficult, if not impossible.
Refreshing a PC, on the other hand, will bypass the need for an external hard drive back-up and move downloaded apps, settings and personal data to the new copy of Windows 8, he said.
Lee promised the OS’ upcoming beta will let users retain the following, and more, after a refresh: Wireless network connections; Mobile broadband connections; BitLocker and BitLocker To Go settings; Drive letter assignments; Metro-style apps; and personalization settings such as lock screen background and desktop wallpaper. (via Building Windows 8)