Windows 7 Catch-up: Windows Recovery Environment

What do you do when Windows refuses to start? It won’t boot and you can’t run the trouble-shooting tools. A floppy-disk with DOS 6.0 and some tools just doesn’t cut it any more. You’re out of the office, on the road; or it’s your parents’ PC. All you’ve got is a black screen with some esoteric error messages. Windows Recovery Environment was introduced in Vista, which worked, so long as you had a bootable DVD and an optical drive. Spot the two issues there.

Windows 7 includes the Windows Recovery Environment, including improved versions of the system recovery tools. These are semi-hidden gems that many users won’t even know are available and can save considerable grief, phone-calls and possibly expensive support call-outs…
Most usefully, Windows Recovery Environment is now automatically installed on the local hard disk as part of the Windows 7 setup, ensuring that the tools are available even if the Windows 7 DVD is not. As long as the hard drive itelf is working, the Windows Recovery Environment tools such as Startup Repair are always available. This is the component that works fairly reliable. If the hard drive is the broken component, you can still start Windows Recovery Environment from the Windows 7 DVD to attempt a rescue. This has always been hit-or-miss depending on the problem.

What this means is that IT Support can talk a user through the process of starting the pre-installed Windows Recovery Environment from the computer’s hard drive, where the system recovery tools can automatically resolve a number of problems without further manual troubleshooting.

You can also start Windows Recovery Environment from the Recovery Control Panel when running a system-restore from a backup image or to factory defaults. In this case, the Recovery Control Panel will guide the user through the process of backing up their local user files, restarting the machine into the Windows Recovery Environment and launching the recovery tools. The Recovery Control Panel is yet another option assessable from the Action Center, which is turning into an Aladdin’s cave of utilities.

This is one more part of the drive by Microsoft to get all those IT Director’s off it’s back, complaining about the cost of servicing and supporting Windows PC’s. The fringe benefit is that it’s making Windows 7 that bit more maintainable for the rest of us. Finally. AJS