Windows 8 Easy Refresh?

I saw this write up about the built in ability to both restore to factory settings as well as just refresh (basically a clean install but preserves your data). It’s not a dumb idea, it solves a common problem that has been already a long time. Way way back when I started in IT doing phone support it was very common to have the user reinstall Windows 95 over the existing install, essentially doing the ‘refresh’. The power user trick at the end was to have them search for “*.reg”, select all, then press enter, which would merge 40 or 50 reg files back into the registry and get most apps running again without a reinstall.

That was a long time ago. Windows 95!

So as much as this solves a problem (resetting before donating to charity)(does it really do a good job of wiping your data?), this is still a band aid. We end up reinstalling – I do it myself – because the machine gets so junked up that it takes forever to start. Cleaning that up should be easy, but it’s not. The registry grows and grows as uninstallers do a half way effort, shared dll’s get left behind ‘just in case’,etc,etc.

Enough ranting though. This feature – assuming it survives to RTM – will help a lot of people. My wife was reinstalling Windows on one of the computers we have set out for the kids and it would have been nice to just click ‘reinstall’ and have all the drivers loaded back with it.