Michel studied with Ingetraud Drescher, Nikolaus Delius, and Frans Brüggen. He is lecturer for the recorder at the Staatliche Hochschule Münster and at the Musikakademie Kassel. In addition to compositions published under his own name, he has written numerous pieces in the style of the early 18th century under the pseudonym Giovanni Paolo Simonetti. In 1993 he succeeded in convincing noted Haydn scholar H. C. Robbins Landon and the pianist/scholars Paul and Eva Badura-Skoda that six pianosonatas he had composed were long-lost works by Joseph Haydn (Beckerman 1994; Linskoog 1996). Based on the opening few bars of six lost Haydn works, found in an old thematic index, these sonatas were published in 1995 as works by Haydn, "supplemented and edited by Winfried Michel." He has similarly completed the Viola Sonata left as a two-movement fragment by Mikhail Glinka with a menuet as third movement, even though Glinka would have - according to his autobiography - put a rondo.