Even an IT novice can recognize the scourge of ‘bloatware’ on new hardware. It doesn’t matter what type of new gadget you’ve purchased, it’s bound to come loaded with unnecessary apps and software that the manufacturer believes will drive you to purchase more of their products. And while they aren’t impossible to remove, those pesky programs can take a lot of time to get rid of. With Microsoft’s new ‘Refresh Windows’ tool you can send all of them back from whence they came in just two easy steps.
If this software isn’t trying to drive you back to the manufacturer’s sales stream, it’s paid a hefty chunk of change to be included on off-the-shelf hardware. Regardless of which it is, it’s not there to help you — it’s there solely to increase the manufacturer’s bottom line. So if you think bloatware just isn’t enough of a concern to waste time refreshing your Windows install, consider that PCs without it start up 104% faster, shutdown 35% faster and have approximately 30 more minutes of battery life.
Because this isn’t a new problem, we’ve seen similar removal tools in the past, but they didn’t offer the same level of usability. When using Windows 8’s ‘Refresh and Rest’ the bloatware either wasn’t removed, or if it was, Windows required the reentry of a license key and a lengthy install completely from scratch. ‘Refresh’ Windows swiftly replaces everything on your hard drive with a fresh version of the OS as if it came straight from Microsoft.
Although this tool is best suited for clearing unwanted programs off of your machine right after you’ve purchased it, there’s no reason that you can’t use it further down the road. You might be thinking, “No way, I’ve got way too much important information to sacrifice it all just for a clean install.” Well depending on the extent of your data, that isn’t a problem.
When you open the ‘Refresh Windows’ client there’s only one option you need to select before moving forward, ‘Keep personal files only’ or ‘(Keep) Nothing’. Selecting the former will keep everything stored in your ‘Music’, ‘Pictures’, ‘Videos’ and ‘Documents’ folders. Remember that documents (in these folders) created or edited using Microsoft Office will be kept but the Office suite itself will be removed. Make sure you still have the licenses and installation disks for every piece of software you plan to use after the refresh.
This new feature will accompany next month’s Windows update, but users who just can’t wait to squash annoying ‘crapware’ can find the tool here. Simply download, open, and choose if you want to keep any personal files — one, two, done.
You may be able to adequately navigate your way around a Windows machine, but there are often shortcuts that insiders use to speed up otherwise mundane management tasks. For any Windows projects or problems you have, drop us a line, we’ll have them fixed faster than you can uninstall that CD-burner utility that you never asked for.