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Windows 10 Fresh Start Tool Appears

I’ve more or less stopped covering Insider Preview releases for Windows 10 in this blog. That’s because they’re coming fast and furious now, and admins usually have more to do than track beta OS releases. But yesterday, when MS released its second build this week — namely 14367 — the covering announcement in the Windows Experience Blog mentioned a new Windows 10 Fresh Start Tool:

 A new tool to give your PC a fresh start: We’ve heard from many of you that are attempting to perform a clean installation of Windows that it can sometimes be hard to get started. To help, we are providing a new tool that enables an easy and simple way to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows. This tool is now available from the Settings app for Windows Insiders using the latest builds that installs a clean copy of the most recent version of Windows10 and removes apps that were installed on your PC. You can visit this Microsoft Community page (which has been updated) to learn more about the tool and download it.

This new tool provides an alternative to “Reset your PC”

This item had been promised earlier this year, so I was interested to check it out. The download is a file named RefreshWindowsTool.exe that is a miniscule 343 KB in size. It turns around and downloads a copy of a Windows image file (.wim) of its choosing (3.4 GB for the 64-bit version that most PCs use).

Why Testing the Windows 10 Fresh Start Tool May Be Premature

The tool will be included with the public release of the Anniversary Update in July, 2016, but is currently subject to some potential gotchas and limitations:

  • The tool performs a clean install of Windows 10. Thus, all applications installed atop the OS must be reinstalled to be available. A working Internet connection must also be available to grab a Windows image.
  • According to MS “The build installed by this tool is not guaranteed to be the latest build available to insiders, and at times may install a Windows 10 build that is older that [sic: than] you had previously.”
  • The tool supports only three language versions: English (EN-US), Chinese (ZH-CN), and Japanese (JA-JP).
  • MS indicates that “digital licenses, digital content associated with applications, or other digital entitlements for applications” may not survive the fresh start process. This would either make those applications unusable, or the content unavailable. MS recommends that the tool be avoided on PCs where such applications or content are in use.

My hope is that all these dangling issues and gotchas will be fixed by the time the Anniversary Update goes out the door in mid-to-late July, 2016. If so, admins and users can put the Windows 10 Fresh Start Tool to work without fear of license or digital entitlement issues.