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

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).

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Browser wars: Apple’s M1 chips help Safari close the gap on Google Chrome

The success of Apple’s M1 range of silicon could have inadvertently helped drive up the market share of web browser Safari, new data suggests.

The first M1-powered MacBooks were launched in 2020, followed by a series of mobile workstations powered by the M1 Max and M1 Ultra in October, 2021. Both launches were met with critical acclaim.

All Apple devices, of course, come with Safari pre-installed. And according to the latest figures from Statcounter, the company’s browser now accounts for 19.6% of internet activity, up 1.2% in the last three months alone.

While the increase may sound relatively insignificant as a percentage, the raw numbers are much more compelling; data on the total number of web users from Statista suggests Safari has attracted roughly 58 million additional users since the start of October.

A big year for Safari?

The ubiquity of Apple products (iPhones and iPads, as well as Mac devices) means Safari is comfortably the world’s second largest browser, streets ahead of the likes of Microsoft Edge and Firefox.

However, Safari is still nowhere near as widely used as Google Chrome (with 64% market share), which currently has somewhat of a stranglehold on the sector.

That said, the ever-growing popularity of Apple devices and the company’s reputation for high levels of security and data privacy could see Safari begin to close the gap on Chrome this year.

Apple has also been transparent about its efforts to accelerate the adoption of business Macs, which may have a knock-on effect on the size of the Safari user base. Last month, Apple announced it is preparing a device subscription offering whereby businesses will be able to lease MacBooks for as little as $ 30/month.

Although Google executives won’t lose any sleep over the threat posed by Safari just yet, the browser wars appear set to rage on in 2022.

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