Windows 8–Windows To GO

One of the new and coolest features of Windows 8 for me is the Windows To Go (Portable Workspace). Windows To Go enable you to run Windows from a USB drive. I am not talking about Installing Windows from a USB drive rather, booting and running Windows off the USB drive Smile how cool is that?

This can be like running a managed desktop on an unmanaged client, to explain a bit more on that, imagine you have your personal notebook (unmanaged client), which is not part of your companies directory server or doesn’t have any policies of your enterprise. If you require to run your office desktop on your personal computer, you can simply do it without formatting or installing anything. You have to capture your enterprise image to a USB drive and boot your personal computer from the USB and you have a managed desktop.

Below are the steps to enable Windows To Go on a USB storage.

Requirements: 32 GB USB Drive, your Windows 8 customized WIM or the WIM which can be found in the Windows 8 Beta ISO (\sources\install.wim), ImageX.exe utility (which is inside WAIK http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?DisplayLang=en&id=10333)

The USB stick has to be prepared first before we proceed with Windows 8 Installation

Plug in the USB to your computer and note the assigned drive letter

  • Open up CMD with Administrative privilege
  • Type Diskpart and hit enter
  • Type List Disk (this will show the attached hard drives and the USB drives) hit enter
  • Type Select Disk 1 (disk 1 is my USB drive) hit enter
  • Type Clean (this will clean the disk) and hit enter
  • Type Create Partition Primary (This will create a partition on your USB Drive) and hit enter
  • Type format fs=ntfs quick (this will format your USB drive) and hit enter
  • Type Active (this will activate the partition) and hit enter
  • Type Exit (to exit Diskpart) and hit enter

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By now you should have the Windows 8 image created. This can be a custom image (image that you can create by configuring a reference pc with windows 8 and capture the image using ImageX) or you can use the Image (.wim) file which comes along with the Windows 8 Beta ISO (You can find it in \sources\install.wim)

I will be using INSTALL.WIM for this testing purpose and I have copied both the WIM file and the IMAGEX.EXE tool to my I:\ drive  

Navigate to I:\ in command prompt and type imagex.exe /apply install.wim 1 h:\

(H:\ is my USB Drive where I will be deploying the image)

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The image is applied successfully (might take some time)

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Once done with the image, you will have to set the boot configuration details

bcdboot.exe H:\windows /s H:

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That’s about it and now you are ready to go with Windows To Go. You can plug this USB drive on any computer and boot from it and you will have Windows 8 (it can be a MAC or a Linux as well), only thing is that the host computer should be able to boot from a USB. Windows To Go will not modify any of the Host machine files or details.

click  Windows To Go – Overview for more information

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