Windows 8 – Resetting and Refreshing

Windows 8 Refresh Your PC Screen
Sometimes, for whatever reason, we all feel the need to restart our pc. It might be that we’ve loaded it with too many programs, Locksmith, too much junk and it’s just not running as smoothly as we’d like. Or it might be that we want to start over again, from scratch.

At the moment, whilst we can re-install Windows 7 and Windows XP, we often choose not to as we don’t really want to lose all our data. Plus, resetting can take hours and every PC seems to be different in how we set about resetting.

This is a problem that Microsoft has been working on and they’ve come up with a quick and handy way to reset your machine to factory settings whilst still retaining all your files and Metro apps. Windows 8 won’t automatically save other downloaded apps as it could be one of those causing the problems with your PC. You will need to download and install them again.

How to Refresh Your PC in Windows 8

If your machine boots up normally go to the PC Settings menu, also known as Control Panel, from the start screen and select Refresh Your PC. Microsoft claims that the process takes minutes to complete.
Windows 8 Troubleshooting Screen
If your machine is not booting up, you will be offered the chance to troubleshoot from the UI boot menu. Again, this should only take a matter of minutes.
Windows 8 Refresh Confirmation Screen

Cleaning the Hard Drive Prior to Re-cycling

Windows 8 Reset Your PC Screen
It seems an odd thing to be thinking about; handing your used Windows 8 PC to charity or another user when none of us have even got our hands on one yet, but this is just what Microsoft have been doing.

With most of us wanting to be greener, many of us now choose to donate our PCs to other users when we upgrade. One constant problem with this, however, has been how to clean our PCs to prevent other people getting hold of our data.

In Windows 8, however, they have come up with a way to completely clean your hard drive and return your PC to shop bought condition in minutes. You read that right, minutes, not hours. What’s more, they’ve standardized the clean up procedure so that it is the same across all Windows 8 environments.

If you want to completely clean your hard drive and set it back to factory settings then you need to do only three things:

  1. Go into the PC Settings menu, also known as Control Panel, from the start screen.
  2. Select ‘Reset Your PC’
  3. Choose whether to have a ‘thorough’ or ‘quick’ reset.

Windows 8 Reset Options Screen
If you choose a quick reset, your files will be deleted and over-written but they might still be recoverable by someone using the pc after you.

If you choose a thorough reset, as the MSDN blog puts it “Instead of just formatting the drive, choosing the ‘Thorough’ option will write random patterns to every sector of the drive, overwriting any existing data visible to the operating system. Even if someone removes the drive from your PC, your data will still not be easily recoverable without the use of special equipment that is prohibitively expensive for most people. .”

The reset option can also be accessed through the troubleshooting menu on the UI.

And as Microsoft promises the refresh and reset will be the same across all PCs and will be quick and easy, it should make it easier for all of us to keep our machines working and to ensure they have a productive life long after we’ve finished with them.

Windows 8 Extends Battery Life by Reducing Memory Needs

Microsoft knows that many of us use laptops rather than desktops these days and we also want to use a lot of apps at the same time. They also know that more memory equals more RAM, which means more battery usage, which in turn means lower run times for our laptops.
So, what Microsoft has done is to identify ways to free up memory requirements and still have an efficient and effective operating system.

Combining memory so that memory takes up less space

Microsoft has developed a way of combining memory so that memory takes up less space. What normally happens is that when you install an application, it will allocate some extra memory to that app in case you need it in future. Install lots of apps and you have lots of sets of allocated memory just sitting there, doing nothing, but taking up valuable memory space. By using memory combining, Windows 8 assesses the actual memory needs of an app and then deletes all duplicate memory entries across the system memory. In this way Microsoft has managed to free up to 100MBs of memory.

Intelligent OS

Plus, instead of all OS services running all the time and taking up memory, in Windows 8 they moved 13 OS services to a ‘start on demand’ model. And they also developed a way of identifying high priority and low priority memory uses, to ensure that even when memory is scare, your vital apps don’t become unresponsive.

The Proof is In the Testing

Microsoft took a three year old laptop with 1GB RAM and separately installed both Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems on it. They rebooted the machine several times to simulate normal usage and then let the laptop idle for a while.

By looking at Task Manager they saw that using Windows 8 dramatically reduced the amount of memory needed by the OS. CPU usage was reduced by 4% and physical memory by 12% As shown below):

Windows 7 Memory Usage
Above: Memory usage with Windows 7 running Service Pack 1.

Windows 8 Memory Usage
Above: Memory usage using Windows 8.

In short, Windows 8 is proving to be a very efficient running system indeed and one that will, because of its more efficient use of memory, also run quite easily on older machines.

Customizing Windows 8 Desktop

Good news for anyone who is a bit, well, fed-up with the green that currently is the Windows 8 Desktop; apparently the current green setting as standard is only temporary.

At the moment, as anyone who has downloaded the Developer Preview knows, whilst you can change the colours of the lock screen and customize the tiles, the background is unchangeable, it is always this solid block of green.

But according to a recently reported leak, this permanent green background is only a feature of the beta version of Windows 8, the version that is currently being trialled as the Developer Preview.

When the full version of Windows 8 OS is released in August next year, you will be able to change the desktop background to whatever you wish; not only different colours, but also use graphics and wallpaper just as you can now.

At the moment, the desktop is fixed as Microsoft are, naturally, busy working with slightly more important aspects of the OS, such as making sure it all works properly and as energy efficiently as they want it to. They are, understandably, more concerned with the technical applications of the OS rather than fine details such as the ability to personalize the look of the desktop.

However, as the following screen shot shows, when the full system launches, you will still be able to change the settings of the desktop via system settings just as you currently can with Windows 7.

Customize Windows 8

Of course, for those of you not comfortable with the new Windows 8 Metro Screen, Windows 8 allows you to disable the Metro interface and use the classic Windows 7 Start Menu.

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