Almost a month ago, Microsoft released Windows 10 Build 18970 to Windows Insiders. The Build brought a good chunk of changes including the new tablet experience. Microsoft also added another feature to Windows 10 which went mostly unnoticed until today. Microsoft today published a new blog post which talks about a new feature called Cloud Download. The feature was introduced with Build 18970 and is an addition to the various reset options available in Windows 10. The new Cloud Download option will allow users to download a fresh image directly from Windows Update server and install it without the hassle of using image files and making bootable USB Drives.
Earlier PC manufacturers used to bundle DVDs that contained a compressed version of Windows OS which can be used in case of any software issues. Now, they don’t do that mainly because no one uses DVDs anymore but importantly, with Windows 8 manufacturers could build a highly compressed version of Windows which could be used to reset in case things go south. With Windows 10, Microsoft started allowing users to build image files from the current installation but those weren’t very useful if the current Windows 10 installation was bad or corrupted.
To solve this Microsoft introduced Cloud Download which downloads Windows 10 image file directly from Microsoft’s servers and installs it. To use the feature, you will need to go to Settings>Update and Security>Recovery and select Get Started under this PC. Now select Keep my files or Remove Everything and select Cloud Download. Make sure your device is connected to the internet as it will now start downloading the required files. After that, select settings, optional features according to your requirements, review the settings and select reset. The downloading will take time depending on the internet speed. Once the download has been done, depending on what you selected (Keep my files or remove everything), the device will reset and install a fresh copy of Windows 10.
In their blog post, Microsoft also mentioned that the Cloud Download feature is available in Windows Recovery environment as well so you can use that in case your device fails to boot to Windows and you can’t access Windows Settings. The feature, of course, is hassle-free especially for someone like me who always seems to be out of USB drives. It does, however, come with its own limitations. Since it requires a download, you will need a stable internet connection. While 3-4 GB doesn’t take much time download, if you’re having a really bad day, you might get stuck.
That said, the feature is definitely better than always having an ISO file on your Windows 10 device or panicking because you can’t find a USB Drive (again me!). The feature is currently available on Build 18970 and above, and we expect Microsoft to bundle it with 20H1 release. In the meantime, Windows Insiders can use the Feedback Hub to suggest improvements and report bugs to Microsoft.