One of the most well-publicized and anticipated features of Windows 8 is the Push Button Reset. As anybody using Windows for any length of time has no doubt learned by now, the operating system has a tendency to slow down in various ways as time goes on. Factors like leftover files and settings from programs no longer in use are generally at fault, along with bloat from temporary files that take up residence and assorted other factors inherent in the way the system works. Usually the solution is to run through a thorough cleaning procedure, which can take hours, or restore the system from an earlier backup. In the worst cases, the need for a complete reinstallation is not unknown. While Microsoft hasn’t necessarily figured out a magical way to avoid the problem from ever popping up again, the Windows 8 Push Button Reset options make it quick and simple for just about anybody to fix in under ten minutes.
You have two options. The most likely to be used regularly is “Refresh your PC without affecting your files”. This tells Windows to save all of your personal data and Metro apps, but otherwise restore the system to its original state. This eliminates a variety of potential factors that contribute to slowing as well as any potentially malicious software that might be in residence (malware removal is speculative due to lack of robust testing on our part, but safe to assume for the moment).
If you need or want something a bit more drastic, the same screen offers you the chance to “Reset your PC and start over”. This means restoring Windows 8 to its original state, including the removal of all apps and data. While it can be inconvenient to do this sort of thing, especially given that it necessitates downloading and installing all of your favorite apps again, sometimes it is necessary. The advantage here is that for once you do not need an install disk, restore point, etc. Click the button and a few minutes later (including at least one system restart) you have a pristine installation of Win8.
The only real downside of either of these options is that the PC Refresh option favors the Metro environment entirely. It will delete anything installed to the Desktop. While it is understandable why this would be the case in terms of security, since Windows 8 Metro Apps are curated and walled off while the desktop can’t be so neatly accounted for, this will mean that the biggest programs will always need to be reinstalled. Everything from Microsoft Office to Adobe Photoshop will be eliminated with no opportunity to declare programs off limits.
Neither of these Push Button Reset options eliminate the possibility of an active backup image. You can always freeze a working environment exactly the way you want it. This is simply an alternative for people who don’t want to be bothered with that, as well as a fallback in case of corrupted images. It will be especially convenient for Windows 8 Tablet users and those heavily invested in the Metro side of things, of course, but as a last resort even especially heavy users of the Windows Desktop should find it handy to keep around.