In the final month of testing before the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Microsoft introduced a new system utility called the Refresh Tool.
Windows 10 already has a few different tools for resetting or recovering your system so why release another tool for that purpose?
Well the premise behind this feature was to deal not only with refreshing your installation of Windows 10 but also to give you a means to eliminate all of the typical bloatware that comes pre-installed on an OEM computer/laptop/tablet.
If you use the recovery tools that come with your device they are set-up to reinstall not only the operating system but all the extras from the company that built it. Kind of a Catch-22 if you want a truly clean install.
In fact, Microsoft created the Signature Edition PCs program for their Microsoft retail stores in order to provide customers systems that did not have all the bloatware on them.
The Refresh Windows Tool in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update now brings that Signature Edition experience under your own control with your locally installed version of Windows 10.
Before you dive into using the Refresh Windows Tool there are a few caveats you should be aware of.
- This will remove all apps from your system that are not part of the standard default installation of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. This includes apps built by Microsoft that you downloaded form the Windows Store and those apps, software programs and drivers from the device manufacturer.
- If you want your properly licensed digital installs to stay in place DO NOT use this tool. However, if you can easily retrieve those licenses and reinstall those programs then this tool can be used.
- I tested this tool out on a Surface Book so after the reinstall was complete I checked and there was still a 4.5GB Windows.old folder on the hard drive. The Windows.old folder contains your previous installation of Windows 10 and is typically used to recover your system in case of an issue with the new install however, the system does not recognize it for manual recovery. If your new Windows 10 install using the Refresh Windows Tool is OK then you can go ahead and use the Disk Cleanup tool to remove the previous Windows install that is stored in Windows.old.
You can read more about the Refresh Windows Tool on the Start with a clean installation of Windows 10 page at Microsoft.
This gallery will take you through the screens you will see as you use this tool to install a clean copy of Windows 10 on your system.
Be sure to check out all of our Windows 10 Anniversary Update Coverage.