Windows Insiders can now play with Microsoft’s fresh install tool

Microsoft has a new tool in testing for Windows Insiders that purports to make fresh OS installs as painless as possible. The life of an Insider can apparently be a tumultuous one. Broken new features and buggy updates mean that it's probably good to make a fresh start every so often, and this tool could go a long way toward automating that tedious process. The new tool doesn't have an official name, but Microsoft seems to be using the phrase "start fresh" to manage communications about it.

Essentially, Windows Insider testers can download the tool and run it to automatically download and install a fresh copy of the Windows 10 Insider Preview. The tool isn't guaranteed to install the latest version, but Microsoft says it should be a "recent" version. Users will be prompted to "Keep personal files only" or "Keep nothing," much like the Windows 10 upgrade process. After a bit of automated work behind the scenes, the machine will boot back to the Windows desktop.

No software is kept at all, including hardware drivers, which might lead one to ask, "why would I use this instead of simply doing a clean install?" The biggest difference is the network-based nature of the tool. Instead of having to track down an install image and create your own install media, the tool will do it all for you. The "start fresh" tool also gives the option to automatically preserve user files, but we'd probably keep a backup or two just in case.

Right now, the tool is only available for Windows Insiders on Preview builds, but that's because the tool itself is not a final product. Microsoft intends to bring the tool to the general Windows user audience with the Anniversary Update. This tool could be good news for anyone looking to slap a fresh copy of Windows on a branded PC loaded down with bloatware when it becomes available to the general public.

Comments closed
    • JumpingJack
    • 3 years ago

    If only MS made a “Permanent Windows 10 Uninstall Tool”…. now that would be nice!

    • DrCR
    • 3 years ago

    I like to clean Windows using dd=/dev/zero bs=/dev/sda BS=8MB, which I find a very effectual approach. But this may be a different means to a different end than what others may be looking for…

      • Meadows
      • 3 years ago

      Yes, yes, very clever. I bet you’re also vegan and don’t have a telly at home.

        • DrCR
        • 3 years ago

        [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0O_VYcsIk8[/url<]

    • Deanjo
    • 3 years ago

    It’s amazing how many years behind Windows is on some basic features that other OS’s have had for decades.

      • sweatshopking
      • 3 years ago

      Osx has a refresh for it’s SaaS operating system? Windows has long had a reset for its released operating systems. You know that. Don’t be crazy.

        • Meadows
        • 3 years ago

        I can’t remember if W7 had this sort of thing (hasn’t been on my computers in a long while) but W8 and later could refresh your OS if you inserted your installation media.

          • bthylafh
          • 3 years ago

          That was a new feature of 8.

            • sweatshopking
            • 3 years ago

            Yep four years old now.

        • Deanjo
        • 3 years ago

        OS X has had it from day one, most time however it is not needed as tossing the prefs folder in the trash, logging in and out solved most of the issues.

          • sweatshopking
          • 3 years ago

          COOL STORY, BRAH.
          REALLY HAPPY ABOUT IT.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 3 years ago

    OEM: “Well, darn it. Wait, we can still push ‘modified’ updates through Windows Update service…”

    (I’ve read that Toshiba and other laptop OEMs are notorious for insisting on “custom” GPU drivers, block AMD/Nividia/Intel standard GPU drivers, and then abandon support.)

      • bthylafh
      • 3 years ago

      I’ve certainly had older Dell business desktops demand Dell-specific video drivers (always Intel, because that’s all we get) but I think that stopped somewhere in the Core 2 Duo days.

    • dikowexeyu
    • 3 years ago

    Can you remove Microsoft spyware, the Store, Cortana and all the Bing apps?

    No? Then is worthless.

      • blahsaysblah
      • 3 years ago

      You can, but if you do, it will persist through Win 10s Reset My PC feature.

      They are adding this to give back Win 8’s Factory Reset feature which was same as a clean install off media.

    • sweatshopking
    • 3 years ago

    bloatware on a new pc? run this and it is all gone.

      • Meadows
      • 3 years ago

      Cillit Bang!

      • blahsaysblah
      • 3 years ago

      No its not. MS Store, Candy Crush, XBox,… all will be there. You have to use powershell cmdlets to remove them. They wont persist through a Win 10 full Reset that way, but this will bring them back. This is a real clean install feature that they removed from Win 10, that they introduced in Win 8.

        • sweatshopking
        • 3 years ago

        Ummm windows store is a core part of the os. It functions far beyond just being a place to buy apps. I get you don’t like it, and qq, but it isn’t bloatware.
        Xbox too. Candy crush though is a pita. THOUGH WE’VE ALL UNCOVERED THOSE BEARS AMIRITE

          • blahsaysblah
          • 3 years ago

          Yea, i personally would not remove Windows Store as some key software is delivered and updated from there.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 3 years ago

          There are at least 10 random apps I remove every time I install Windows 10 (or do various updates that bring them back).

          No, I don’t want “get office” or “get skype” or all your random phone apps on my desktop.

        • dyrdak
        • 3 years ago

        Pot calling kettle black. Seeing the crap spilling from the start menu of 10 Enterprise is really eye opening. Enterprise not Home. Can’t uninstall, just sweep under the Desktop/hide (until the next users trips over).
        I guess MS is busy cutting out competition to the adware market and tools like this are just PR/damage control move to take attention from the real “villain”.

    • blahsaysblah
    • 3 years ago

    Why is this necessary?

    Because in Win 10, the master Windows files are your install. For example, if you remove the package files of some annoying Store Apps, you will be surprised after a Windows Reset, that they are still gone… Changes made to core Windows are like OEM changes to recovery partition. Your install is the recovery partition.

    Windows Reset/Refresh are now pretty useless.

      • Meadows
      • 3 years ago

      I’m pretty sure you don’t understand this whole concept, much like how I don’t understand your comment or its relevance to the topic.

        • blahsaysblah
        • 3 years ago

        The reason they are adding this feature is that unlike in Windows 8, a Windows 10 full Reset is NOT the same as a clean install. You can make changes to Windows that carry over between PC Reset/Refresh operations in Windows 10. When i brought it up with [edit: Microsoft] support, they said they are aware of problem, you should use media to do a clean install to get “clean install” and that they are working on solution. This is it.

        My example was exactly that. When i said Store App package, i meant literally that. Not uninstall an App. I meant change the manifest and remove actual app package sources. How I found out that a full Win 10 reset was not same as Win 8 Factory reset. I had literally changed the recovery/install source when i did that to my PC.

        [edit] removed first sentence, not my intent.
        [edit2] Similar to (powershell): Get-AppxPackage -allusers PackageFullName | Remove-AppxPackage

          • Meadows
          • 3 years ago

          This “problem” is actually a plus in my opinion, because it means you can erase unwanted UWP Store apps completely and they won’t come back.

          Of course, the kind of bloatware this feature *is* advertised for is not in the Store to begin with. And even if it were, you could right-click the app in Start, select “Uninstall”, and it would be gone in literally 2 seconds; without any stupid “Uninstall wizards”, dialogue boxes, or other popups.

          Edit: Not sure what they can do about broken/missing system components that also reside and behave as if they were Store apps, such as the new calculator or the photo viewer or Edge, but as far as I can tell there’s already been a way to fix those online since the previous Windows version. I doubt this new fresh install tool would leave out that PowerShell command just to save two minutes.

    • bthylafh
    • 3 years ago

    Having a big enough SSD to hold virtual machines is a glorious thing for, among other things, testing insider builds of Windows 10.

      • evilpaul
      • 3 years ago

      Aside from losing one or both of my Auto-Hide’ing Task Bars on either monitor sometimes (hitting the Windows key is a workaround to get at them) behind full screened Win32 applications I’ve only had problems with one build of the Win10 Insiders Fast Ring that just wouldn’t boot after installing. And that fixed itself (eventually) by automatically doing a rollback to the previous version.

      edit: Oh, and you’re 100% right about running VMs off an SSD. I bought a bigger, faster one to hold my OS and most stuff and retired the slow, smaller, old one (240GB Intel) for VMs and lots and lots of Steam games that I’m going to get right into any day now. Boot, resume, and general responsiveness are all vastly better, as expected.

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