Windows 11’s new Restore Apps feature is so close to being great

Man looking in hope at a laptop
(Image credit: Viktoriia Hnatiuk / Shutterstock)

Windows 11 will soon be much easier to set up exactly how you like it on a new PC thanks to a freshly introduced feature which has now entered testing.

PC World reports that Microsoft revealed the new Restore Apps feature at its Build conference for developers.

The feature – if turned on, as apparently it’s an optional ability – will shift not just your personal data onto a new PC (as can already be done via OneDrive, of course), but also your apps (with a catch – we’ll come back to that). Also, it’ll port over the customization you have applied to the interface too – so, for example, your desktop icons and layout, or apps you have pinned to the taskbar.

In essence, this means you can fire up a new installation of Windows 11 and soon have it exactly like your old system, with a minimum of hassle and effort.

As you might imagine, though, to get Restore Apps rolling and the full benefit of this easy migration to a new machine, you’ll need to be signed into a Microsoft Account (as opposed to using Windows 11 with a local account).

Windows 11 Restore Apps Feature

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: A couple of caveats

This is a great move from Microsoft in terms of making it really easy to get a new PC going. The catch is that with the apps being reinstalled, Windows 11 only preserves applications you’ve installed from the Microsoft Store, so you will have to manually set up other software.

And yes, you do have to use your Microsoft Account for the Windows 11 installation, but that’s no surprise. We don’t have a problem with Microsoft leveraging its account where necessary and when it’s of genuine benefit to users, after all. (What we don’t like to see is dubious ‘suggestions’ and ‘help’ in the Start menu which are just thinly veiled adverts for an account).

We’re told that Restore Apps should be available to testers imminently, perhaps by the time you read this, but it’s not clear in which channel Microsoft will deploy the feature first (Canary or Dev, presumably).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).