Windows 8: Portable Workspace allows you to run Windows from a USB device

By Tom Warren, on 15th Apr 11 10:26 am with 44 Comments

Description of Windows 8 portable workspace

An early copy of Windows 8 leaked to the Internet this week and enthusiasts have been digging their way through the various new bits in Microsoft’s next-generation operating system.

Windows 8 build 7850.0.winmain_win8m1.100922-1508 contains a number of references to a brand new feature in Windows: Portable Workspaces. Microsoft will allow Enterprise customers to create USB storage driven copies of Windows. “Portable Workspace is a Windows feature that allows you to run Windows from a USB storage device,” notes Microsoft in its description of the feature inside Windows 8. Users at mydigitallife unveiled the features inside 7850 and discovered that the feature requires at least 16GB of space.

The addition of such a feature in Windows will ease document compatibility and application feature differences for information workers. It appears as though Microsoft is targeting the feature at Enterprise customers who may have several varied uses for portable versions of Windows. IT professionals will welcome the feature as it will empower them to quickly boot a copy of Windows 8 to diagnose any existing problems on the local PC installation. Information workers will be able to power up a copy of Windows 8 on a client’s PC with their own documents and workspace to securely and easily share any presentations or company data.

It’s not yet clear exactly how Portable Workspaces work once created. The 16GB limitation could also indicate a minimum HDD space for Windows 8 across the board. One thing that is clear from the latest leaks is that Microsoft is working hard to add a number of exciting new features to Windows, making its next-generation operating system an exciting affair.

Windows 8 - Portable Workspace

Image Credit: Angel of Despair @angelwzr

  • GrayW

    Well that is a feature I wasn’t expecting to pop up. Great idea Microsoft!

    • random guest

      The Linux community has been doing this for years.

    • rsg1

      How’s that working out for them?

    • Anonymous

      It works pretty damned well. I use live USB distro all the time.

    • Guest

      Except that it’s way better that we both have it now. I feel like Microsoft could say “You have nothing to threaten me with!” like the Joker to Google with Chrome OS, although in this situation Google is more evil.

    • Guest

      There must be some way out of here
      Said the joker to the thief
      There’s too much confusion
      I can’t get no relief
      Businessmen they drink my wine
      Plowmen dig my earth
      None of them along the line
      Know what any of it is worth
      – Bob Dylan

    • Tippecanoe

      There is this pretty large difference. I use several Linux live distros. And one of them is installed on a 32 MB USB stick. That is 32 *MB* not 16 *GB*. And I believe it will fit (though just barely) on a 16 MB stick. All that with some diagnostics for the PC, a browser, networking, etc.
      I use both Linux and Windows, and have a USB/CD based Windows XP for diagnostics, imaging, etc.

      And yet, just last Friday I used a Linux live distro to rescue data off a hard drive that the Windows live iso would not even recognize as an existing drive.
      And yes, I got all the data.

    • Anonymous

      So has the windows community with windows pe except this just makes it easier to do.

    • Mark

      Hate to break it to you, but so has the Windows community. This is just MS providing a direct and simpler solution to what people have already been doing for years.

    • Mark

      Hate to break it to you, but so has the Windows community. This is just MS providing a direct and simpler solution to what people have already been doing for years.

  • AlienSix

    Wow, Im excited about that

  • Stark

    Oh man, sweet!

    • Fggu

      Microsoft ftw, IOS is a piece of garbage…

    • Stark

      Well it would be unfair to compare Windows and iOS. But, if you want: Windows: Lamborghini Reventon, Mac OS X: Fisher Price Truck :)

    • Ryan W

      Then why did it seem as though Win Vista emulated a lot of Mac OS X features/design?

      Also, I’d say that the average user has a greater likelihood of crashing in the Reventon than the Fischer Price truck…

    • Stark

      1. It was a joke. 2. They steal ideas from each other. 3. Relax ;)

    • Anonymous

      Much of OSX was part of longhorn design and much of Win7 had part of OSx it’s the nature of development in any type of product… that’s why he have Pepsi and Cocacola with a similar product.. Grape Soda, Orange, Cola, Diet, Lemon flavor, etc…

    • Barney Gumble

      get your sources checked. OS X is based on NeXT (an OS Steve Jobs was working on in the 90s). Longhorn “borrowed” from NeXT.

    • Mark

      For example? I think you’ll find that:

      1) Many of the features/designs that you think Apple created in OS X were available on Windows via third parties or can be traced back to those for inspiration.
      2) Apple took a lot of inspiration directly from MS’s early Longhorn concept demos. They were able to implement many of them ahead of MS because of the Longhorn/Vista disaster. That’s one main reason MS now plays OS roadmaps closer to their chest.

      That’s not to say that Vista and W7 don’t also borrow features from OS X. They do. But on balance I don’t think there’s good support for your statement that MS emulated a lot of OS X features and designs.

    • Barney Gumble

      So, you’ve never heard of NeXT OS, Steve J was working on in 90s? (which OS X is based on and Longorn “borrowed” heavily from)

  • Gaqw

    Microsoft is indeed the world’s most innovative company. Well done MS!

    • SGaw

      Microsoft may be innovative but it’s certainly not due to this feature,get your facts correct, it’s existed in Linux systems for ages and it’s just a little step-up from WinP.

    • Anonymous

      You could say the same with Windows on a stick, because it has been able to run on a stick for a while. Only that MS did not offer this method but that didn’t mean it was not possible. I did a photo frame project with Windows on a stick and it works pretty good for it’s use.

  • Anonymous

    Now that is a feature I would love and use a lot.

  • Oime

    Perfect idea !

  • Anonymous

    I hope it’s available in Professional. And even Home Premium too. But not very likely.

  • D.O.M

    Awsome feature, I hope when Microsoft produce Windows 8, they have one version for everyone!

    • Shatimi

      …which is gonna cost $129 (c) S. Jobs.

    • Anonymous

      They do have one version for Everyone, it’s called Windows Premium, the rest are to your choice and needs… I think if Microsoft goes to the Module route then Microsoft can sell the basic OS for 50 bucks with the added add on costing extra…

  • D.O.M

    Awsome feature, I hope when Microsoft produce Windows 8, they have one version for everyone!

  • xxdesmus

    I hope they are smart enough to include this in the Professional SKU, not just the Enterprise.

    • Andre Da Costa

      Agreed, in fact, Microsoft should kill the Enterprise and Ultimate SKU’s, the $20 difference between Pro and Ultimate don’t make any difference. Make the features unique to Enterprise available under MDOP and Software Assurance.

  • GP007

    Well people have been asking for a Windows “Live CD” of sorts, but this takes it to the next level since ,if the USB stick has room, you should be able to install any apps you’d need as well.

    • Anonymous

      It exists already. Its called windows pe and anybody can make one.

  • Mister Twister

    Windows, windows every where!

  • Keno Butler

    one feature i’d love to see is a “spaces” feature similar to that of OSX and Linuxi….. would really put the icing on the cake for me

    • Mark

      Has been around for ages through third parties. MS even used to offer one directly through powertoys.

  • Frank Becker
  • Deecept

    But wheeeere… looking everywhere in 7850, but can´t find it anywhere! Any one that knows? :)

  • qwerty asdfg

    It seems Windows starts copying Linux,anyway they have yet to perfect it,we have this feature in Linux for ages and a 1GB USB stick shoulld suffice while Windows 8 requires 16 GB.

  • ShadowRunner

    Wow M$ is really ahead of the curve, it only took them 8 years to steal this function from linux.

  • Sammyinwales96

    Notice how the 7,44 has a comma not a dot (7,44gb not 7.44gb) -__-

  • GPF

    Hell, 16 Gb of crap? Do we really need all that junk on live USB?

  • OMG55

    Any of you remember August 1997? Incase you don’t, let me remind you, “Bill Gates invested 150M in Apple to keep them afloat”. Bill Gates appeared on a larger than life JUMBOTRON towering over Steve Jobs, so please stop bickering like children over nothing. Without this investment, Apple would not exist right now. And last I checked, when you have stock in the company, if there stock goes up, so does yours. So in short when apple suceeds and makes a profit, so does Microsoft. If you have any doubts, see this original video: