Clean PC: Microsoft’s Refresh Windows Tool Can Help Make Windows 10 Crapware-Free

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0

Clean PC: Microsoft's Refresh Windows Tool Can Help Make Windows 10 Crapware-Free

Well, this is a welcome development. That Refresh Windows tool I discussed yesterday will be available from within Windows 10 going forward and will let users remove all of the crapware that comes with a new PC. Now that’s progress.

As I’m sure you know, I’ve been pushing the Clean PC mantra since January 2015, when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella declared that he wanted users to love Windows 10. Well, this will certainly help.

Most Windows 10 users probably know that there is a Reset This PC tool in Settings that lets you reset your PC back to its original, factory condition. But since PC makers can modify the system image used by Reset This PC, the resulting clean install is anything but clean, and will include whatever crapware the PC maker decides to include.

Technical users know they can download a Windows 10 ISO directly from Microsoft, but that’s only one step, and of course most normal users will never attempt the clean install process I’ve been documenting for over a year now here on But that’s where Microsoft’s Refresh Windows tool comes in. Now, even normal Windows users should be able to clean install—really clean install—Windows 10. And do without worrying about crapware.

In other words, if this tool works as advertised—and I’ll be testing it to this end over the weekend—anyone should be able to buy a new computer from any source, take it home, turn it on, and then blow away the crapware-laden PC maker install and get a clean image of Windows 10 on there. And then they can get on with their lives.

This is great news.

You access Refresh Windows from the Recovery view in Settings, Update & Security. Here, you’ll see a new link at the bottom, “Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows.”


Today, this links to a Microsoft Answers article, but I assume it will link to the actual tool download page in the future. Here’s a direct link.


Refresh Windows looks and works a lot like Reset This PC, except that it runs in a window. You can choose to retain only your personal files, which will delete apps and settings (a “refresh”), or you remove it all (a “reset”). It is, in other words, a version of Reset This PC that works against the latest clean install image of Windows 10, and not against the one your PC maker provided.

I still have questions, the most obvious being how it handles PC-specific drivers and utilities. But that’s why I have all these PCs here for testing purposes. I’ll write about my experiences here on this site, and in the coming update for Windows 10 Field Guide, which is being updated for free for the new Anniversary Update features.

More soon.


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