Microsoft Confirms Windows 10’s Cloud Restore Feature

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.

Tagged with

Share post

Conversation 22 comments

  • Rob_Wade

    01 August, 2019 - 10:03 am

    <p>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.</p>

    • cmdrkeene

      01 August, 2019 - 10:24 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#446844">In reply to Rob_Wade:</a></em></blockquote><p>They've had this in their Surface devices for a long while now, at the firmware level — so even if your OS is totally destroyed the UEFI can connect and download the install image. It's why I don't keep the restore partition, I don't need it.</p>

      • qlstudent

        01 August, 2019 - 10:49 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#446851">In reply to cmdrkeene:</a></em></blockquote><p>I am afraid you are right which means this feature will be useless for existing computers and is only useful for computers going forward because after my Asus bricked when updating the BIOS, I don't update BIOS on any device that doesn't have the two bios thing. (sorry in advance for saying BIOS when I mean EFI) </p>

        • Stooks

          01 August, 2019 - 1:24 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#446854">In reply to qlstudent:</a></em></blockquote><p>"&nbsp;this feature will be useless for existing computers"</p><p><br></p><p>Same thing happened to existing Mac's when this rolled out for Mac's.</p>

      • Stooks

        01 August, 2019 - 1:24 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#446851">In reply to cmdrkeene:</a></em></blockquote><p>This is the same way Apple has been doing it, or a motherboard that can connect to the internet from the BIOS and update.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • dontbeevil

    01 August, 2019 - 10:24 am

    <p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">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"</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">till windows 10, when MS introduce "reset this pc" … can you kindly try to study when you write an article?</span></p>

    • evox81

      Premium Member
      01 August, 2019 - 10:35 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#446852">In reply to dontbeevil:</a></em></blockquote><p>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 <em> outside</em> 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. </p>

      • Dashrender

        Premium Member
        01 August, 2019 - 12:42 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#446853">In reply to evox81:</a></em></blockquote><p>Or just as important – your disk dies and you replace it. The BIOS/UEFI gives you the option to download from MS's servers.</p><p><br></p><p>I really like this.</p>

        • dontbeevil

          01 August, 2019 - 2:13 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#446868">In reply to Dashrender:</a></em></blockquote><p>yeah your statement is correct, the "prefessional objective journalist" statement no"</p><p><br></p><p>"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."</p>

  • waethorn

    01 August, 2019 - 11:01 am

    <p>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.</p>

    • Dashrender

      Premium Member
      01 August, 2019 - 12:46 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#446855">In reply to Waethorn:</a></em></blockquote><p>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.</p><p><br></p><p>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… </p><p><br></p><p>Or would the BIOS point at whatever the current version of Windows is, and what happens when that doesn't support your chipset anymore?</p>

      • waethorn

        01 August, 2019 - 1:55 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#446869">In reply to Dashrender:</a></em></blockquote><p>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.</p>

  • feek

    Premium Member
    01 August, 2019 - 12:29 pm

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

    • Scsekaran

      01 August, 2019 - 6:23 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#446866">In reply to feek:</a></em></blockquote><p>it is available for surface devices . I have used it for surface pro few times couple of years ago. I think it is available for all windows devices now </p>

  • karlinhigh

    Premium Member
    01 August, 2019 - 3:55 pm

    <p>Glad to see this! Hopefully it will intelligent about determining the optimal version of Windows to download.</p><p><br></p><p>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?</p>

  • Dan1986ist

    Premium Member
    01 August, 2019 - 4:30 pm

    <p>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?</p>

  • jwpear

    Premium Member
    01 August, 2019 - 5:18 pm

    <p>This is awesome and so welcome! Always been impressed with this on Macs.</p>

  • dontbeevil

    02 August, 2019 - 12:02 am

    <blockquote><em><a href="#446979">In reply to Salvador Romero:</a></em></blockquote><p>Thanks you're right, I can admit it and I apologize… Someone else no</p>

  • justme

    Premium Member
    02 August, 2019 - 2:45 am

    <p>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?</p><p><br></p><p>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?</p>

    • Scsekaran

      02 August, 2019 - 3:25 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#447006">In reply to JustMe:</a></em></blockquote><p>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</p>

      • justme

        Premium Member
        05 August, 2019 - 6:42 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#447112">In reply to Scsekaran:</a></em></blockquote><p>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.</p>

Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest tech news from Thurrott.com!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thurrott © 2023 BWW Media Group