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Microsoft de-cloaks Windows 8 push-button lifesaver

Refresh or reset options for fraked PCs

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Microsoft has revealed how the Windows 8 push-button reset feature should save dying PCs when it hits beta in the coming weeks and is delivered this year.

Windows 8 will offer two options to recover a crashed machine: reset your PC or refresh your PC, Microsoft said on the Windows 8 blog here.

Reset will remove all personal data, apps and settings, and re-install Windows 8; refresh will keep personal data, Metro-style apps, "important" settings and re-install Windows.

Only Metro apps will be preserved and you'll have to re-install desktop apps yourself. Windows 8 will feature two interfaces and application development and input models: the classic desktop and the new, Windows-Phone inspired Metro that's geared for touchy tablets.

The reason for not saving the desktop apps, Microsoft said, is that it is often a single rogue app that has caused your machine to slow down or crash.

Desmond Lee, program manager on the Fundamentals team updating the Windows 8 blog, said: "We do not want inadvertently re-install 'bad' apps that were installed unintentionally or that hitched a ride on something good."

One benefit of refresh is, according to Lee, that you don't have to back up your machine first.

In the Windows 8 beta some of those "important" settings that will be preserved in the refresh will include: wireless network connections, mobile broadband connections, Microsoft BitLocker and BitLocker To Go settings, drive letter assignments and personalised settings such as desktop wallpaper. Other settings will be dumped, as, according to Lee, misconfigured settings can be a cause of system problems.

How long will a refresh or a reset take? Eight minutes and 22 seconds for a refresh and a "quick" reset starts at six minutes and 12 seconds. The numbers are based on using a Samsung PC running the Windows 8 developer preview that was handed out at the Build Conference last September. That machine featured an i5 processor and 4GB of RAM.

Plans for the reset button feature were leaked last summer and explained further by Microsoft at Build.®

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