back to article Ouch. Reinstalling Windows 10 again? By 2020, a 'cloud download' may be all you need

Microsoft responded to speculation that Windows 10 would be acquiring a cloud recovery option – with a terse confirmation in last night's Windows Insider emission. The release, planned this time rather than accidentally released over all the Windows Insider Rings, was otherwise a tad humdrum if not for some teasing text: " …

  1. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Um, just NO!

    If you have no recovery media, then you should be able to download to a USB Stick/drive using ANY machine or OS.

    A built in Cloud Recovery is nonsense.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Chrome OS.

        A terminal to Google's Servers that they had to add local stuff to, because always on, always available Internet/Cloud is a fiction.

        I'd call Chrome OS a Chrome Browser on a minimal Linux/GNU stack, almost locked to Google's Apps. Bad value compared to a full Linux. It's only a good idea for Google.

        It's not a proper OS like Mac, Windows, Linux, BSD, or even Android and iOS, it's a Cloud Terminal.

        1. sabroni Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: It's only a good idea for Google.

          Is it? In my family of 4 I'm the only one who still uses a Windows laptop and that's to run Visual Studio and IIS.

          I totally understand the point you're making but it misses the the fact that a Chromebook is a consumer device. A full stack Linux or Windows machine is never going to be as convenient and easy to use as a Chromebook. Though I would never own one the reality is that it's a consumer pc that satisfies most user's needs.

          Don't allow your distrust of Google to impede your ability to think objectively about things.

      2. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Um, just NO!

        "Works for Chrome OS."

        Well, that's 0.36% of the operating system market covered then...

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: that's 0.36% of the operating system market covered then..

          Seriously, we're talking about consumer pcs and the Linux fans are shouting about market share?

          Wow.

          The year of the Linux desktop is it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: that's 0.36% of the operating system market covered then..

            The year of the Linux desktop is it?

            What, again?

    2. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Um, just NO!

      Having been at a hotel reinstalling a client's macbook air over (their choice of hotel's) wifi.. I'll take the preloaded usb stick too.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Um, just NO!

        Depends who was paying the bar bill?

    3. simonlb
      Thumb Down

      Re: Um, just NO!

      Yeah, how will that work if you're on a metered connection?

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Um, just NO!

        Or a machine that's borked enough not to be able to get on the internet at all, or where that's the area of breakage?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Um, just NO!

        "Yeah, how will that work if you're on a metered connection?"

        Use the same method that you would use today? There's no mention of MS removing other re-install options.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Um, just NO!

          WHAT options? last I checked, doesn't work for a VM or with ethernet

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Um, just NO!

            Leaving aside the fact that most people using VMs would restore using a backup image, checkpoint or differential which would restore their system in a few seconds instead of doing a full re-install which would take a lot longer, restoring from USB works fine on my Win10 VMs running under VMware Workstation.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Um, just NO!

        "Yeah, how will that work if you're on a metered connection?"

        already a major problem with the regular Win-10-nic FORCED updates.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Um, just NO!

      If you have no recovery media, then you should be able to download to a USB Stick/drive using ANY machine or OS. A built in Cloud Recovery is nonsense.

      The problem is that your approach requires another machine and/or a helpful third party - who probably has to download the very thing you're after.

      The 'cloudy' approach (which is just marketing speak for having the image on a defined server somewhere) makes it independent from anyone other than the need for a decent connection. That doesn't remove the USB/external media option, it just gives you an extra one.

      Apple has been doing this for ages - MacOS emergency boot facilities contain an option to reload the OS via a WiFi link.

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: Um, just NO!

        > MacOS emergency boot facilities contain an option to reload the OS via a WiFi link.

        But what happens when the emergency boot has been wiped?

        Is it in the UEFI?

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Um, just NO!

          But what happens when the emergency boot has been wiped?

          Is it in the UEFI?

          I would guess that it is. I picked up a 2010 MacBook Pro really cheap at a flea market (my one-and-only Apple product), and rather than trying to hack an account onto the existing OS on it, I simply booted with a Linux live DVD and wiped the disk. I had figured I'd either order a reinstall DVD, pick one up at WorstBuy, or get a friend at a partner site to make a USB reinstall image for me. At this point there was no OS, partitions or boot sector on the HDD.

          While looking up the info for ordering a fresh OS, I found the info on the internet-fased install. Took 2 or 3 tries to get it to kick off, but it did work (installed straight into High Sierra, the newest supported version for that machine). So score one thing Apple could do competently.

          A month or so later I moved it to an SSD I had lying around (after upgrading another machine) and made a USB installer from the existing install to re-load onto the SSD. That worked too. Not that I'm doing much with the machine other than maintaining familiarity with MacOS in case I ever need to for some future job.

        2. The Ghost Deejay

          Re: Um, just NO!

          @DuncanLarge

          Yes it does still work. Though I have not got a clue as to whether it is in the uefi or not. Whatever that is...

          Cheers… Ishy

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Um, just NO!

        >The problem is that your approach requires another machine

        Should be possible to download ISO to an Android phone and create a bootable usb, even if the USB drive is a micro-SD card reader...

        Something I think needs to be investigated...

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Um, just NO!

          Yes a 10 minute investigation has revealed the following are possible:

          1. Stock Android (no root): burn ISO/DMG to USB drive (then plug USB drive into PC and boot): EtchDroid, ISO 2 USB.

          2. Stock Android (no root): boot PC via USB from ISO stored on phone (OTG support and adapter required): USB Mountr (from F-Droid).

          3. Rooted Android: as per 2: DriveDroid.

          Interestingly, the review sections for the above listed Play store app's are full of feedback from users experiencing problems after upgrading to Android 9; so probably best to run an older version of android...

          There are a number of recent how-to articles walking through the use of the above tools.

          One of the interesting future developments for EtchDroid and relevant here is a facility to support the streaming of a distro from the internet so that it doesn't actually need to be physically stored on the android device.

    5. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Um, just NO!

      Apple allow you to download the install image from the App store and transfer it on to a USB stick, so that is an option if you have a working computer.

      If you don't have a working computer that can download things from the App store, or you CBA to fish out a USB stick from the bottom of your box of computer junk, then cloud restore is another option.

      Another thing, can we have a Windows version of Time Machine. On a Mac, you can restore a b0rked comupter in a few clicks plus however long it takes your NAS to transfer the backup image.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Windows version of Time Machine

        Or you can use the Windows Control panel GUI to back-up to cheap USB HDD. Then it's a few clicks to restore, even if the OS can't connect to WiFi or can only do the UEFI screens.

        A decently borked computer won't talk to the network.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Windows version of Time Machine

          If it works like MacOS, networking support and iso image download and installation will be in the EFI.

          I'm sure all commentards around here will welcome built-in support in the EFI for talking to the mothership hovering over Redmond.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Windows version of Time Machine

            I'm sure all commentards around here will welcome built-in support in the EFI for talking to the mothership hovering over Redmond.

            Why not? The Linux community will shortly afterwards figure now to make it work for doing Linux net installs.

        2. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: use the Windows Control panel GUI to back-up to cheap USB HDD

          There's your problem. They put the same feature in Windows but called it something really boring. No-one is going to take a "back-up", everyone loves a "time machine".

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Windows version of Time Machine

          >A decently borked computer won't talk to the network.

          Often a decently borked computer won't talk to or recognize its local HDD...

          So I hope the "cloud download" is on the Windows Recovery USB/DVD.

          Plus I hope that generic Windows Recovery media works - I really dislike HP's insistence on recovery media being serialized to the machine that generated it...

    6. Stuart Castle

      Re: Um, just NO!

      There is a major problem with that. What if you have no extra machine? I'm an experienced Mac and PC user. If I have a problem with my Mac, as long as I have a Wifi or Ethernet connection working I can re-install the Mac in a mater of minutes. OK, it's likely to download several gigabytes, so you do need a relatively fast internet connection, preferably unmetered.

      You would need those to create a boot USB. You would also need a second machine, as well as the drive itself.

      Apple have one advantage over MS in this. They control both the OS and the firmware on the machine. If they need the firmware to look at a range of IPs for a given server, they can include that code in the firmware. Microsoft cannot. Yes, they can write UEFI extensions, such as that used to boot Windows in UEFI mode, and they can probably write a UEFI extension to PXE boot a machine from a server in a given range of IPs, but the computer would need something (such as a previous installation of Windows) to have put that extension on the internal drive, and would obviously need an internal drive that isn't blank.

      One way around this is for Microsoft to gett an arrangement with the motherboard manufacturers to include that extension in the firmware for new motherboards. This, however, would likely generate a *lot* of complaints from those who believe they should be free to install whatever OS they want (and I am a person who believes this, although I wouldn't actually complain), and may attract anti-trust actions.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: What if you have no extra machine?

        What no phone? Some can download to USB adaptor with a USB stick.

        The ONLY way this can work is MS proprietary code in the laptop/PC Flash. Will that allow install of non-MS OSes? It won't work on today's computers with a Windows that doesn't boot. Unless something horrible is added to your router and you chose Network Boot on the Setup. Though I've seen some PCs/Laptops that you CAN'T re-install unless you change a BIOS/EFI setting while the Win7 is still working, as the default is to read the MS EFI hidden partition!

        So is it REALLY to allow recovery by the Cloud or have new UEFI locked to MS Cloud Servers if the HDD/SSD doesn't boot?

      2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: Um, just NO!

        > so you do need a relatively fast internet connection, preferably unmetered

        If I had to do this on a metered connection I'd think it would be cheaper to buy a flash drive from somewhere and write a recovery image to it and keep it in my "important stuff" box where I also keep the spare car keys and whatever else I think I might not do without.

        Of course, if that image ages too much I may have to pay for more data anyway to get the updates, so maybe the OS can help me keep the flash drive up to date by reminding me to consider plugging it in so already downloaded updates can be slipstreamed in?

        I may be on a houseboat using a 4G router that gets me about 10meg at best in the middle of a canal!

        This feature makes sense if you are using a device hampered by not having sufficient ports etc.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Um, just NO!

        I can re-install the Mac in a mater of minutes

        I'd say that realistically it's closer to an hour unless you are inside Apple HQ on their LAN. A full restore from a locally attached SSD over USB3 already takes a good half hour, and that's to a reasonably potent machine with SSD storage (been there, done that :) ). Other than that, yes, it works quite well.

      4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Um, just NO!

        If I have a problem with my Mac, as long as I have a Wifi or Ethernet connection working I can re-install the Mac in a mater of minutes. OK, it's likely to download several gigabytes, so you do need a relatively fast internet connection, preferably unmetered.

        You would need those to create a boot USB. You would also need a second machine, as well as the drive itself.

        Even when you have a handy Linux machine available, I don't think Apple provides a means of downloading the reinstall image from the store. Maybe on the MSWin iTunes application, but I doubt it. It was in the process of trying to find alternative ways of downloading the OS image for my flea market Mac that I found the net install option.

      5. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Um, just NO!

        Apple have one advantage over MS in this. They control both the OS and the firmware on the machine.

        There is a level playing field when it comes to the MS Surface...

    7. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Um, just NO!

      Yeah but the USB stick probably contains a bunch of crap you don't need. Cloud recovery could also potentially restore all the accounts onto the devices and any store content too.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: restore all the accounts

        Only if you put the Accounts on the MS Cloud. Which might contravene GDPR and I'd not trust MS Security for the entirety of my data or even my enemy's data.

    8. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: Um, just NO!

      PXE is back, and it's pissed.

    9. aks Bronze badge

      Re: Um, just NO!

      I don't understand the complaint. You've been able to download an ISO of Windows 10 and install a clean version for years. You have to choose the base language and whether it's 32 or 64-bit but beyond that it's simple.

      At some point you'll need to put in your licence string but I've found that I can use my Windows 7 string to install and register Windows 10 on a blank HDD.

      A cloud version may be a different animal, more like ChromeOS but that doesn't attract me much.

      For full disclosure, I must admit that the hardware I've installed onto is mostly Dell but doubt if that's an issue.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Um, just NO!

        I don't understand the complaint. You've been able to download an ISO of Windows 10 and install a clean version for years. You have to choose the base language and whether it's 32 or 64-bit but beyond that it's simple.

        The advantage with MSWin there is you can download the image on a Linux system and even write the USB or burn the DVD from there as well. As far as I was able to find out, a MacOS reinstall image/USB could only be downloaded and created from a Mac (or Hackintosh, presumably).

    10. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Um, just NO!

      A built in Cloud Recovery is nonsense

      Why? MacOS has had it for quite a while and it's pretty useful if your Mac is trashed and you don't have the install media to hand..

      (Mind you - Apple don't have to check for licensing since any Apple-branded Mac hardware has the right to run MacOS. There also can be a problem with some types of proxies but, in general, it works pretty well - especially when combined with iCloud backups).

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

    Would probably not work for me. Microsoft considers that everything lives on C:, whereas I, by experience, know that that is the path to madness.

    Every time I reinstall a Windows OS, once I have a functional system I create a secondary Data partition and shove all the user folders there (you know, what Microsoft has named "Libraries"). That way, when comes the inevitable moment of Yet Another Windows Crash & Burn, the only thing I lose is the OS, not my data. It also helps that I only need to backup the C: partition, which is not so heavy in my scenario. My data I backup differently.

    I'm pretty sure that an MS cloud download is going to put everything back the MS way, and MS can shove that right where the Sun don't shine.

    I'll handle my own recovery, thank you.

    1. OurManInX

      Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

      if you are getting lots of windows crash and burns then you are doing something wrong.

      Stable. as. a. Rock.

      1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
        Coat

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        In my experience, very few rocks are actually flat, and when put on a flat surface, tend to wobble around a lot...

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        "We'll be saying a big hello to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere. And to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together guys..."

      3. JLV Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        Stable as a Windows impacted by a rock?

      4. Nolveys Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        Stable. as. a. Rock.

        More like a brick.

      5. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        > if you are getting lots of windows crash and burns then you are doing something wrong.

        Like running what is considered by some to be a toy operating system?

        https://www.grc.com/sn/sn-298.htm

        - Steve: I like Windows.

        - Leo: Oh.

        - Steve: I don't like Windows 7. I like XP. Maybe someday I'll like Windows 7.

        - Leo: But Steve, it's a toy operating system. You said it.

        - Steve: It is a toy. And, I mean, it really is.

        Sure Steve Gibson was talking about XP but, here is the epiphany, windows hasn't changed much at all underneath. Its the same code with a different UI slapped on it every few years with only a few parts being changed or replaced, which turn out to be broken or not fit for purpose while they slowly re-introduce the original feature set of the original code. Now that Win 10 is a constant beta they can change loads, and test it on you.

        Windows 10: Stable as a rock, till it rolls off the edge.

        Windows 10: Stable as a rock, till the forced major update re-maps all your drives because the developer didn't perform a regression test thinking it should be YOUR job.

        Windows 10: Stable as a rock till the next forced update is recalled several times as it keeps wiping user data.

        Windows 10: Stable as a rock, when it works yes, but provides you with several inconsistent UI design elements that change depending which program you are using, two control panels, fast start up mode that means shutdown IS NO LONGER SHUTDOWN and gets turned back on EVERY TIME AN UPDATE GETS INSTALLED, a talking AI thing called cortana that everyone rushes to turn off when setting up a new machine, and you used to like creating your own custom theme/look? Well sorry but you cant do that anymore. You cant chose the f*cking title bar colour to fix the stupid UI choice of making the active and background title bars THE SAME COLOUR SO I CANT TELL WHAT APPLICATION HAS FOCUS.

        WIndows 10 best feature? The right click menu on the start menu. Ok, its been there since 8.1 but I love it.

      6. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        if you are getting lots of windows crash and burns then you are doing something wrong.

        Stable. as. a. Rock.

        You mean inert and generally non-functional? Yeah, that would be MSWin.

    2. JLV Silver badge

      Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

      Amen. Which, btw, is another sore subject when it comes to lacking a Time Machine, fully-reliable, consumer-friendly backup built into Windows:

      lots of MS’ built-in backup solutions are throttled/C: only/GUI-only. To say nothing of system savepoints, which have proven unreliable in practice.

      Time Machine, which has saved my bacon twice, is a big part of what somewhat justifies macOS’ “premium pricing”, IMHO.

      Given how flakey Windows is there is no excuse for not bundling a simple, foolproof backup mechanism that spans multiple drives. In the late 90s, that would have been seen as a monopolistic bundling move, detrimental to 3rd party vendors. We’ve passed that point, IMHO.

      Oh, it and MS in general also really needs to unbundle system/program configuration from user data. c:\Program Files and equivalents having user data is plain stupid.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        They do. Since Vista valls to read/write files in the program's directory are intercepted and done in C:\ProgramData instead.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

      "Microsoft considers that everything lives on C:"

      REAL operating systems don't have a 'C' drive. Worth pointing out...

      (when's the last time you used an 'A' or 'B' drive on your machine that has a 'C' drive, hmm???)

      A REAL OS has a '/' to which everything mounts on a specfied directory aka 'mount point'. MUCH simpler.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        You can install things to a: or b: on Windows these days, but it makes greybeard windows admins like myself very uncomfortable. I know I'll probably never own another machine with a floppy drive but some things are just wrong ok!

        (Oh, and Windows has been quite happily symlinking for years now, so it would be possible to have a c: drive that was empty except for links to folders on other volumes)

        1. aks Bronze badge

          Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

          and D: is always my DVD drive. E: for Data. "As it was in the beginning and shall ever be."

      2. The Ghost Deejay

        Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

        @ BombasticBob

        There never was a B drive as far as I know. And I am, sadly, old enough to remember trying to find the damn thing.

        Cheers… Ishy

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "download a pristine copy of the OS from Microsoft's cloud servers"

          @The Ghost Deejay - "There never was a B drive as far as I know."

          Saw these first on dual floppy machines, a common configuration at one point was:

          A: 3.5 inch floppy

          B: 5.25 inch floppy

          C: HDD.

          Obviously, as some floppy based software assumed it would always be installed from A: the A and B drives would get swapped. I encountered similar problems when running a CD-ROM drive as D: and a CD-RW/DVD drive as E: and installing packages from the E: drive.

  3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Trollface

    Bombs away?

    ...since the gang admits it "isn't available and working quite yet".

    At least recently that doesn't seem to have stopped them doing such releases anyway...

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Bombs away?

      ...in the shops by Midnite, tonite!!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bombs away?

      "isn't available and working quite yet".

      At first, I thought that was how they were describing windows.

  4. GlenP Silver badge

    Noop

    I'll take the manufacturer provided image any time, there's a good chance the drivers will actually be the right ones.

    There's a huge difference between doing this in a walled hardware/software ecosystem where one company controls both sides (Apple and MS for the Surface) and having to support multiple hardware configurations.

    1. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Noop

      I don’t entirely get this. Wouldn’t it be possible to boot a minimal generic keyboard/wifi/GUI stack, inventory/probe the installed hardware and then automatically do the equivalent of an apt-get to a MS repo of manufacturer-sourced drivers?

      Works for Linux too. Apple controlling the stack isn’t a prereq for solid system engineering and I’m tired of that as a MS get out of jail card.

      Vendors aren’t exactly always easy to find your way around. Plus, ASUS got pwned & Lenovo’s little cert malware...

    2. SAdams

      Re: Noop

      Getting drivers on tends to be trivial compared to removing bloatware in my experience. Far better to start with a clean Windows build when new - let alone during recovery...

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Noop

      Do manufacturers still provide install media? (I only ever recall large manufacturers doing it back in the day). After all, Win10 is going to download all it's drivers from Windows Update anyway, so unless your hardware is so unique that there's no drivers easily available for it (which is rare these days), it'll install just fine.

      I've never had issues installing Win10 from a downloaded USB, even on my homebuilt machines which are a long way away from being a 'supported hardware configuration'.

  5. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

    My last reinstall was end of 2011

    I don't want to reinstall. Therefore I have a working backup.

    In 2011 i reinstalled with Windows 7 x64, on an i7-2500k@4.8 GHz. It took all 8.0, 8.1, Win10 1511 and so on upgrades. Including changing to i7-4960x , Ryzen 7 2700x and now Ryzen 9 3900x - including mainboard swapping except for the last upgrade, several GFX cards from AMD and NVidia. Only with minor problems (Battleye was the last for 1903). And a "remove all drivers older than 2017 and not from Microsoft" run using Process Hacker last February - killing old, but still loaded, drivers from 2012. That driver cleanup was only necessary due to a specific Hyper-V problem with one specific virtual machine running with one specific OS and CPU configuration...

    Runs solid, with heavy load jobs running over several days, sometimes weeks. I don't want to reinstall, I have WAY too much installed and working without problems.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: My last reinstall was end of 2011

      >I don't want to reinstall, I have WAY too much installed and working without problems.

      So I assume you periodically archive full disk images using tools like Clonezilla, which really image the entire disk and don't omit the critical MS bits that prevent the restored image from booting...

  6. LenG

    Take a different path

    I'd rather have an OS which didn't bork itself in the first place.

    1. Stuart Castle

      Re: Take a different path

      Windows doesn't actually bork itself that much in my experience.

      In our building, I manage the support of around 300 PCs, all running Windows 10. They are quite heavily locked down, certainly a lot more heavily locked down than Windows is by default, but the machines are running 24/7 51 weeks a year (it's not 52 because we shut down from Christmas to New Year, and with the building being unoccupied, we turn almost everything electrical off to minimise the risk of fire.

      Apart from that, I would argue that less than 5% of the machines require reinstalling in a given year, although thanks to the use of System Center, the re-install process is almost entirely automatic and takes less than an hour to bring the machine back to a usuable state (it won't have all the Applications we use, but it will have the basics).

      We also have a couple of PCs at home. The last time I installed windows on either of them would likely have been in 2015. My main PC blew it's motherboard, and while I know you can just plug the drive containing Windows into the new motherboard and most of the time it will work, I prefer to re-install Windows anyway, so I did re-install Windows at that time. I also re-installed Windows on my housemate's laptop at about the same time.

      My PC is quite heavily used, although primarily for gaming now, but it was left running (apart from the odd reboot for updates) for at least 2 years. I do tend to shut it down at night now, as I don't actually need it left running overnight generally, and I feel it is wasteful to leave it running if its not needed.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Take a different path

        Stuart, you work with Windows all the time.

        This thread is for people who use Linux, don't understand Windows, always approach Windows as if it's Linux, try and apply Linux fixes to Windows problems and see Windows as a bad Linux implementation.

        You using your experience to bang on about the reality of actually working with Windows is just going to upset them.

        Please keep it up!

        1. Adair

          Re: Take a different path

          Nice try, but unfortunately wrong.

          When it comes to Desktop computing almost everyone is COMPELLED to use Windows in the workplace.

          It's hell I can tell you.

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Coat

      Re: Take a different path

      I'd rather have an OS which didn't bork itself in the first place.

      "Everybody wants that dear.... it doesn't exist".

      Shuts door behind self and retreats, muttering about "warm rolls"...

      (If anyone actually gets the movie reference, I'll be amazed...)

      1. Aussie Doc

        Re: Take a different path

        As good as it gets?

        1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

          Re: Take a different path

          Yep.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    For the majority of people even with a fibre broadband connection install from USB is going to be quicker route as a USB2.0 memory stick can achieve somewhere in the region of 40MBps, and a USB 3.0 memory stick around 100MBps. Compare that to around 10MBps that your average person might achieve in ideal conditions over a home broadband connection. Assuming the PC can actually boot to get an internet connection that is, as if it can't local media is the only option for recovery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MS may not intend this option for everyone. If you're in a country or even city with poor connectivity, this option may not be for you. I have lived in places with Gigabit connectivity where this could be feasible. Besides, it may be your only option if you don't have access to another machine.

      The only question I have with the Microsoft approach is driver availability. Apple has been doing this for ages, but for them it's easy as they have defined hardware - the diversity of what Windows has been installed on makes this a lot more complex.

      1. aks Bronze badge

        My experiences with Dell kit has been good. After installing the raw new Windows 10 (or 7) and doing Windows Updates a couple of times, going to the Dell support site and letting it interrogate the PC, some specific drivers are identified and available for download. A visit to Device Manager helps to identify any remaining anomolies.

    2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      > and a USB 3.0 memory stick around 100MBps

      That looks to be a slow stick as USB 3.0 supplies up to 5Gbps (600MB/s)

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >That looks to be a slow stick

        Sandisk currently label their Ultra flash drives as having a read speed of up to 100MB/s and their Ultra Flair drives 150MB/s; these aren't the cheapest in the market and neither the most expensive...

  8. J J Carter Silver badge
    Linux

    Who trusts a binary?

    I only update Linux after d/l and compiling the kernel myself.

    1. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: Who trusts a binary?

      So do I! I've generally compiled it *and* rebooted into the new kernel before the sad W10 box in the corner has even figured out where the update files are or what data it'd like to send to MS first.

      And if it goes wrong, all I need to do is reboot and select the old kernel from the list. None of this "Restore Point" BS.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Who trusts a binary?

      Ah a Gentoo user. Which is first, Chicken or Egg? (A Mint user).

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Who trusts a binary?

        when you update the kernel in mint the old kernel usually shows up as a boot option in GRUB until you actually uninstall it manually. Last I checked, it was like that for all of the debian-based distros.

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Who trusts a binary?

        "Ah a Gentoo user. Which is first, Chicken or Egg? (A Mint user)."

        Er, Penguin?

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Who trusts a binary?

      yeah I can do that with FreeBSD as well [and I do compile the kernel myself before updating]. But when it comes to the 3rd party software, building from source can take DAYS... [even on a super-mega-multi-core box]

      But yeah if you want it built with your current shared libs and headers, as long as everything's consistent, build from source is probably the best way to go for reliability.

    4. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Who trusts a binary?

      I refer you to the classic Ken talk "Reflections on Trusting Trust".

      I'll wait...

    5. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Who trusts a binary?

      I only update Linux after d/l and compiling the kernel myself.

      But you trust the compiler? I strongly recommend you read Reflections on Trusting Trust. Pleasant night mares.

  9. ToFab

    I do not understand all the negativity in this thread. This cloud recovery option sounds very convenient and since all other recovery options are still there, what exactly is there to complain about? I you prefer one the current recovery options, there is nothing that prevents you from continuing using them.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Holmes

      Two reasons:

      1) Microsoft: HISSSSSS!

      2) It allows the commentards to demonstrate the truly magnificent girth of their techno-penises.

    2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      > I do not understand all the negativity in this thread.

      Basically its the UAT (User Acceptance Testing) struggling to get out.

    3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Not complaining *here* about it being an option, along with other options. Conceptually it's a good idea. But a couple of issues do crop up as regards the company implementing it. The first two questions that come up would be will Microsoft:

      1: severely fuck it up

      2: use it as another method of vendor lock-in (an extension of the "Secure" Boot bullshit they've tried to push through)

      The first is unfortunately unavoidable (from any vendor, to be fair). The second is the one I would be concerned about the most.

  10. Mage Silver badge
    Alert

    Re: sounds very convenient

    Embrace, extend, and extinguish.

    For Younger Readers

    1) What Personal info from your gear will be stored on MS Server, so this works, possibly without clear permission?

    2) With the extra info MS will gather, how long will the existing methods be supported?

    3) Logically to be any use it needs to work with a system that can't boot from the usual drive, thus proprietary code needs to be available for WiFi, Mobile and Wired Ethernet (all three) that executes BEFORE the usual bootloader on internal or external storage. Something more than the usual network boot option.

    This has the potential to be VERY bad for security, privacy or installing non-MS OS. Perhaps MS will accidentally roll back from current OS (any Windows, Linux, BSD whatever) to the originally supplied configuration. The potential for disaster due to greed, evil or just stupidity is immense. It's actually solving a problem that doesn't really exist and will encourage owners to not bother to have restore media and not bother backing up.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: sounds very convenient

      1) Why would they need that? There's no reason why that is necessary to make it work. A standard installation is all that is necessary, followed by the usual fetching of drivers as required following a sniff round the hardware in the machine.

      2) None I should think, see 1)

      3) They're going to have to put extra code into the EFI partition, and that can easily incorporate the necessary drivers. That partition is trivial to nuke if one wants Linux instead, so it would have zero impact on non-windows OSes.

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: sounds very convenient

        1. They will need it because: They can get it, you agreed to it and it makes them money. Also licensing and activation counting.

        2. The old methods will eventually become unsupported, be laughed at in reviews and blogs as "crazy things we used to do". Then they will drop support, it will be announced here where we will all try and convince the world how dumb its being in blindly accepting its loss.

        3. Yep proprietary shit. > That partition is trivial to nuke if one wants Linux instead, so it would have zero impact on non-windows OSes.

        Really? You really think they will let you do that when they could use it to lock the device to windows and maybe to yourself, thus stopping you from selling it (licenses cant be transferred). "Nuking" it will end up breaking secure boot which could brick the machine if they implement a TPM in such a way to do it.

        Dont put t past them. You are a product, your data is a product and it pays to find ways to tie you into the devices and systems used to harvest you.

    2. .thalamus

      Re: sounds very convenient

      Sounds like you're stuck in the 1990s. Maybe you didn't get the memo that Microsoft is a very different company now than it was under Bill Gates.

      You're not a Tory are you, because they're stuck in the past too...

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: sounds very convenient

        "Microsoft is a very different company now than it was under Bill Gates."

        Yep. Worse.

      2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: sounds very convenient

        > Microsoft is a very different company now than it was under Bill Gates.

        You really believe that?

        How do you turn off data harvesting again?

        1. Aussie Doc
          Holmes

          Re: sounds very convenient

          I use OOShutUp10 to stop that. Seems to do the job. He'd know ------>

  11. hellwig Silver badge

    Actual Install or just Repair?

    If this can wipe Windows off the drive and install fresh, sounds nifty. If we're just talking a "repair" option, no thanks. It's impossible for Windows to repair itself when the problem is how much crap it's gathered over the years (Windows SxS, really Microsoft? Defeats the whole purpose of DLLs). I'm thinking tablets and whatnot here. So many devices abandoned when Windows 10 simply grew too big (I have an HP with 32GB flash storage, there's not enough space to download the update files and actually update the machine).

    I also assume this is not a cloud backup of my computer, but just an ability to download the latest OS from Microsoft, instead of use your 4-year old USB stick, then have to download and run all those patches. I have cloud backups of my computer, don't need anything from Microsoft in that regard.

    1. taz-nz

      Re: Actual Install or just Repair?

      The Windows SxS is almost entirely virtual in size, people complain how big it is but it actual only takes up a few hundred megabytes of disk space.

      You can check the actual size by following the instructions here:

      https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dn898537(v=vs.60)

      There are ways to reduced the size of WIndows SxS folder, but they don't normally make a big difference.

      Running Disk Cleanup as Administrator and ticking everything often gains a lot of space back, by removing old update rollback data and temp files. If you've done a Windows 10 version update or two you can gain back up to 30GB.

      Things like old graphics or system driver install files can take up a surprising amount of space and often stored in folder in the C drive root. (HP likes to decompress driver files to C:\SWINSTALL before install them and doesn't delete them afterward, you can safely delete this folder and often save a couple of gigabytes.)

      Reducing the size and cleaning out old System restore points helps too, reducing the size of pagefile, and if you desperate you can turn off the Hibernation file and gain back the same amount of disk space as you have RAM.

      If your still desperate for space you can get Windows 10 to compress itself:

      https://www.intowindows.com/how-to-compress-windows-10-installation-files-folders/

      Treesize free is great for tracking down disk drive bloat.

      https://www.jam-software.com/treesize_free/

  12. Zack Mollusc

    I wonder......

    .....wiill this cloudy reinstall have everything set to "maximum spying" ?

  13. Boohoo4u

    I’ll point out...

    That iPad and iPhone recovery works quite well...

    During most of my iPad recovery I can still use the machine while everything gets restored.

    I’ll wait to see what Microsoft comes up with before passing judgment. My main concern is privacy...

    Reimaging the machine is not that same as restoring the machine and data. Microsoft doesn’t have a good record besides providing the ISO.

    We’ll see...

  14. gerdesj Silver badge
    Gimp

    WTF: Windows wont boot

    TL;DR: Why does Windows not have all drivers available to boot on nearly anything out of the box, rather than just what it was installed on.

    Recently I had to rescue a Win10 box's data. It was a MS Surface that had died. The bloody thing needed a hairdryer to melt the glue to open it up and extract the SSD M.2 thing. We had a caddy to put it on a USB connector and off we went. It booted and presented the McAfee Encryption login screen which we were able to work through. Then Windows started and decided to crap out. No reasoning was given but I will put it down to general lameness.

    So I create a WinPE USB key with McAfee DEEtech on it and get the job done on my laptop that happens to have a SSD M.2 port on it.

    A Linux (And *BSD) based box/boot thing will generally work on anything that is reasonably modern. I note the Windows WinPE disc is quite small as well. Why on earth does a Win install in 2019 fail to boot on another box with the same arch?

    1. MalIlluminated

      Re: WTF: Windows wont boot

      This is not based on actual knowledge, but rather an educated guess, so please correct me if I'm wrong here. I highly doubt the problem is the absence of necessary drivers. Frequently, though less often in Win 10 vs previous versions, a system that won't boot normally from an alien boot device will manage fine after a run in "Safe Mode" and the installation of perhaps a dozen low-level drivers. I mean, it'll probably deactivate on you, but for certain values of fine...

      I think the problem is that Windows versions have increasingly stopped checking for certain kinds of new hardware on boot, on the theory that you "shouldn't be doing this," in order to decrease boot times. Win 10 is a beast compared with previous versions, yet "it boots faster to the desktop." Now, some of that is down to creatively redefining what stage of the game "boot to the desktop" actually represents by delaying the start of various services that are more-or-less integral for doing anything beyond displaying the desktop slideshow, but I doubt that's all it is.

  15. Dave 15

    I wonder

    Given the speed of my windows 10 machine I wonder how anyone has enough time or patience to break theirs?

    I left mine in a cupboard a month back because it decided it needed to reboot, its still thinking how to do it.

  16. Avatar of They
    Mushroom

    Stupid Idea

    I had to rebuild a family members, windows 10 laptop over the weekend. Because it had borked AGAIN following stupid updates that can't be stopped. And it wouldn't connect to WIFI or Wired networks. I had to use the onboard reset function to get it back.

    So this idea better be cloud AND local reset alternatives.

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Stupid Idea

      I once (ok three times) installed win 10 from scratch.

      To save having to wait for it to update itself, I triggered the update manually. I only triggered it, I wasnt picking and choosing what to install.

      It broke itself each time, needing a fresh reinstall to try again. I was really pissed off when I found that if I just waited hours for it to do it automatically it had no issue.

      How the hell is waiting for updates to install any different than clicking "check for updates"?

      1. Avatar of They
        Thumb Up

        Re: Stupid Idea

        "How the hell is waiting for updates to install any different than clicking "check for updates"?"

        Well one is letting the normal routine scripts the M$ monkeys have coded, The other is forcing scripts which anger the monkeys and their monkey gods because it obviously causes the hamsters to run extra fast in their little wheels and they need a good lie down after handling your request.

        I can't in all seriousness explain how M$ works because it isn't in any way connected to reality. They don't actually let their coders loose in the real world anymore otherwise they wouldn't make moronic decisions like they do.

        And it could indeed contain monkeys and hamsters in wheels. Judging by the Azure outages and the reasons - it certainly doesn't include change or release management (or QA, or testing)

  17. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    How many years too late?

    Hmm how long did this take?

    For microsoft to look at Debians Netinstall method?

  18. karlkarl Bronze badge

    "a function to remove the need for fumbling with memory sticks and ISO images will be most welcome."

    I am disappointed in the author. Carelessly chucking away control just for a convenience of having to move your arm to grab a spare USB... seems odd ;)

    You can guarantee the "cloud" rescue won't 100% do the wipe so you will be left with a non-deterministic install.

    Sloppy computing...

  19. FrJackHackett
    Thumb Up

    I've only ever had to reset Windows 10 once...

    The only time I've had to reset Windows 10 on my personal laptop, I downloaded an ISO and wrote it to a USB stick.

    I booted from that and installed Linux Mint. I've had no problems with Windows 10 since.

  20. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    sounds good

    So people are hatoing on this... but I did this on a chromebook (that did a nice impression of being "bricked" , including not even being able to usb boot to recover from there...). It was nice. What'd be *really* great would be if microsoft did one better and used an rsync-like algorithm, so instead of pulling like 5GB or whatever you could pull maybe even 1MB or some 10s of MB (if you had a corrupted file or two...)

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