Reinstalling Windows 8 will come in two flavours, Refresh and Reset, each offering a different way of bringing your machine back to factory default settings.
The first one reinstalls the operating system, though metro applications and settings are left as they were before. Reset however, performs a complete wipe taking out all personal information along with Windows settings, bringing it back to how it was before anything was installed or changed.
To maintain your personal files and settings, Refresh moves everything that's to be saved to a reserved section of the storage drive before re-imaging the rest of the disk. Of course if it was your information and files that had given you the reason for wanting to clean everything out, this might not be the best call. In that instance, you want a Reset.
A Reset works a little differently and more like a traditional reinstall and format. The PC is booted into the Windows Recovery Environment and then formats the storage drive partitions, taking out the Windows installation along with all personal files and information. From there a new copy of the operating system is installed, before restarting and taking you through the basic setup screen.
A very interesting part of this process however, is that the Reset procedure also performs a basic secure-erase, randomly writing data across the hard drive. This makes it difficult for any personal information previously stored on the disk to be recovered with specialised equipment. If you're dealing with highly confidential business data, Microsoft still recommends you do multi-pass scrubbing, but that this basic run is enough if you want to give your hardware to a charity or similar.
The two processes are also much faster than previous generations of Windows re-installs. Microsoft details the times of each procedure, stating that a full Refresh took just under eight and a half minutes, whereas a quick Reset took just six minutes 12 seconds.
Because it all takes far less time, Microsoft is encouraging a reinstall as a way to fix issues with the system. If your PC can't boot, Windows 8 will take you to a troubleshooting page that gives you "advanced options" alongside "Refresh your PC" and "Reset your PC." The software giant also said that as part of the beta for the new operating system, there will be a tool that lets users create a bootable USB flash drive which will let you get to the Refresh/Reset page even if the traditional screen isn't accessible.
Finishing up the blog post, Microsoft gives a nod to the "pc guys" around the world who are their parents and friends go to guy when it comes to fixing a computer. "We hope you'll find these features useful and time-saving when you're fixing your own PC or helping others with theirs."