Microsoft Confirms Windows 10’s Cloud Restore Feature

Posted on August 1, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows, Windows 10 with 21 Comments

One of the nifty things about MacBooks is the ability to reset your device with a fresh copy of macOS from Apple servers, instead of having to manually download it yourself, put it on a USB stick, and then install. That feature is coming to Windows 10 soon.

Microsoft was rumored to be working on a Cloud Download feature recently, with a new option in the OS booting UX that allowed users to reinstall Windows by downloading a copy from Microsoft’s servers.

With the release of Windows 10 build 18950, Microsoft has confirmed the new feature. “Insiders may notice some references to “Cloud download” relating to PC reset or refresh. This feature isn’t available and working quite yet. We’ll let you know once it is, so you can try it out,” the changelog for the build reads. It’s not clear exactly how the feature will work, though, and how it will deal with custom OEM drivers, etc.

Either way, it is still good news for a lot of reasons — reinstalling Windows hasn’t been easy in the past, and you had to manually download a copy of Windows to reinstall a fresh copy of the OS. For tech nerds, that’s obviously very easy, but for regular users who aren’t too familiar with tech, this is obviously a lot to ask for. The new Cloud Download feature could make things much easier, as it would presumably only need a few clicks to get a fresh copy of Windows installed on your machine without having to deal with ISOs and USB sticks.

The feature is not enabled yet, but considering that there are some references to the feature in Windows 10 already, Microsoft may enable it for some Insiders in the coming weeks. As for the public, the new feature will be available when it ships Windows 10 20H1, sometime in the first half of 2020.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Microsoft Confirms Windows 10’s Cloud Restore Feature”

  1. Avatar

    Rob_Wade

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is only really any use IF your computer is still able to boot up properly and access the web. Virtually EVERY time I've needed to resort to installing from a USB stick it has been because the installed OS crashed horribly and would boot correctly.

  2. Avatar

    justme

    I've seen several references to Surface machines having this already. I have an SP3, and it is certainly not there at the BIOS level on my device. Am I missing something, or did this come out after the SP3?


    Maybe I am simply not understanding, but this would strike me as only being able to work if you had a modestly functioning machine. Without that, the only other way i can imagine this working is via firmware/BIOS. Is MS now going to demand that PC makers add this functionality to their BIOS?

    • Avatar

      Scsekaran

      In reply to JustMe:

      As far as I understand, it was introduced after Creators Update(1703). If your SP3 shipped with windows 10 it may be available but if it was shipped with Windows 8 , you may be out of luck

      • Avatar

        justme

        In reply to Scsekaran:

        That might explain it. My SP3 was one of the last shipped with Windows 8. Still, I would think you could address that with a firmware update...? Not that I care either way. Regardless, I hadn't considered that my machine shipped with W8 - thanks.

  3. Avatar

    dontbeevil

    In reply to Salvador Romero:

    Thanks you're right, I can admit it and I apologize... Someone else no

  4. Avatar

    jwpear

    This is awesome and so welcome! Always been impressed with this on Macs.

  5. Avatar

    Dan1986ist

    I'm guessing Cloud Download would require something like Windows PE loading network drivers for one's computer, allowing the person in question to connect to one's network, downloading the Windows 10 Version YYMM files, and then rebooting into Windows 10 setup to install Windows 10 on one's computer if it's not installed already or if the person wants to clean install. Or would this be like using PXE to connect to Microsoft's servers, downloading the install files for Windows 10 and rebooting into Windows 10 Setup?

  6. Avatar

    karlinhigh

    Glad to see this! Hopefully it will intelligent about determining the optimal version of Windows to download.


    How much of a functional operating system will this feature need? Surely it can't do a cloud restore from a blank hard drive, like Mac computers can? Wouldn't that depend on features being included in firmware?

  7. Avatar

    feek

    I swear this was briefly in Windows before. I vaguely remember doing it a couple years ago.

  8. Avatar

    waethorn

    OEM's would have to integrate this into firmware for it to be a benefit, and I would rather not have this built in. If Microsoft decides to change their download servers, the firmware has to be updated. If Microsoft is allowed to do it, so could some virus writer. Now you have an auto-downloading piece of malware embedded in your firmware that could control your PC at the pre-boot level. This is a bad idea.

    • Avatar

      Dashrender

      In reply to Waethorn:

      The idea of MS changing their servers and causing an issue isn't a real concern. MS can use DNS names, and point them at the new servers. and everything will just keep on working.


      The issue I'd be concerned about it version vs hardware obsolescence. Will a system that ships with 1903, always point to an image to download that is 1903, even though 2203 is out? Presumably you'd be able to update to 2203 through one major update at least...


      Or would the BIOS point at whatever the current version of Windows is, and what happens when that doesn't support your chipset anymore?

      • Avatar

        waethorn

        In reply to Dashrender:

        Microsoft has cut MANY links to their own KnowledgeBase articles. They haven't proven that they can be trusted to not force a firmware update to resolve download and/or runtime issues. Having pre-boot controlled by Microsoft is about as dangerous as leaving Intel ME enabled.

  9. Avatar

    dontbeevil

    "Either way, it is still good news for a lot of reasons — reinstalling Windows hasn’t been easy in the past, and you had to manually download a copy of Windows to reinstall a fresh copy of the OS"


    till windows 10, when MS introduce "reset this pc" ... can you kindly try to study when you write an article?

    • Avatar

      evox81

      In reply to dontbeevil:

      I'm not sure the features are entirely identical. If they're duplicating the macOS functionality, I'm imagining this being able to download a copy of Windows from outside Windows during the boot routine. So if you can't get in to Windows (due to corrupt install, for example) this would still be able to download a fresh install.

      • Avatar

        Dashrender

        In reply to evox81:

        Or just as important - your disk dies and you replace it. The BIOS/UEFI gives you the option to download from MS's servers.


        I really like this.

        • Avatar

          dontbeevil

          In reply to Dashrender:

          yeah your statement is correct, the "prefessional objective journalist" statement no"


          "Either way, it is still good news for a lot of reasons — reinstalling Windows hasn’t been easy in the past, and you had to manually download a copy of Windows to reinstall a fresh copy of the OS. For tech nerds, that’s obviously very easy, but for regular users who aren’t too familiar with tech, this is obviously a lot to ask for. The new Cloud Download feature could make things much easier, as it would presumably only need a few clicks to get a fresh copy of Windows installed on your machine without having to deal with ISOs and USB sticks."

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