Windows 8 to feature simple factory reset feature

Windows 8

Microsoft has revealed plans to include simple factory reset and PC refresh options in Windows 8.

The Redmond giant said yesterday it was hoping to give users a smartphone-like experience when it came to restoring machines to either a "good" or "factory" state.

The Reset your PC and Refresh your PC features will appear in the beta version of Windows 8 when it arrives in February.

We also will be providing an option in Windows 8 Beta to erase your data more thoroughly.

The former will remove all personal data, apps and settings along with a Windows reinstall. The latter will keep all data, apps and settings but reinstall Windows, meaning there's no need to back-up and restore information after the OS is reloaded.

However, only Metro style apps will be preserved when customers refresh their PCs. This means desktop apps need 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," said Microsoft program manager Desmond Lee, in a blog post.

"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."

Microsoft has also sought to make complete resets ensure all data is deleted.

"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," Lee added.

"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."

The announcement came on the same day Microsoft said it was suing electronics retailer Comet for allegedly producing and selling over 94,000 counterfeit recovery CDs for Windows XP and Vista.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.