Windows To Go: Run Windows 8 from a USB device

By Tom Warren, on 13th Sep 11 10:11 pm with 26 Comments

Microsoft’s Portable Workspace feature has been renamed to Windows To Go inside Windows 8.

The feature allows Windows 8 to boot from a USB device. First discovered in leaked builds, Microsoft looks set to detail the future fully in a BUILD session this week:

“Windows To Go is a new feature in Windows 8 that enables enterprise administrators to create USB drives containing complete, managed Windows images that users can use to boot and run Windows on any Windows 7 or Windows 8 capable computer. Windows To Go makes it possible for employees to use a managed device whether they work from home, a client office or in a free seating environment. This session will discuss Windows To Go, its hardware requirements and building compatible and complementary software.”

Early builds that included the feature, noted that the USB required 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.

Windows 8 - Early copy of Windows To Go

  • http://twitter.com/Nassosdim Nassos Dimitriadis

    This really sounds like a wet dream.

  • Austin Agli

    very nice

  • Anonymous

    As the head of IT where I work, I will definitely be setting up one of these ASAP.
    Thanks Microsoft. :D

  • Anonymous

    Windows “To Go” — All you need is 16GB! =)  That’s right, Windows isn’t 30 MB anymore!

    • http://www.gadgeterija.net Denis Jelec

      Still uses less memory than two tabs in Chrome browser. I call it a win. ;)

  • http://varemenos.com/ Varemenos

    16GB at least? rofl

  • Anonymous

    16GB USB drives are cheap, cheap! They average $20.

  • Anonymous

    This feature is going to be so boss.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.joynes Ben Joynes

    Im assuming you have to be inside Windows 8 to do this? I want to install Windows 8 onto my External USB Harddrive.

    Perhaps, if I make a partition for Windows 8, make the USB HDD my “Windows to go”, format and absorb the partition back to C:

    Plug in my USB HDD, set BIOS to boot from USB?

    Sorry im not that technically minded, would that work?

    • Ion

      To install Windows 8 to an external HDD, you need to apply the WIM file from the installation ISO to a bootable partition on the volume. You can do the same thing with Windows 7, but now instead of applying the hacks to make Windows successfully boot, Windows 8 comes with a bootable USB stack, it’ll simply detect it’s running from USB and adjust accordingly.

      Format the external HDD, then download and run GImageX, you shouldn’t need the WAIK kit to simply apply the WIM, so once you’re in, click the Apply tab, find the WIM, and choose the destination as the correct partition and start the process.

      Once you applied the WIM to a partition on the external HDD, download and run EasyBCD and install BCD to the volume. Then, add the partition to the boot menu. Once done doing that, your external HDD should be ready for boot. Simply boot from it, and Windows will boot and install drivers, adjust to your setup and then welcome you to Windows 8.

      Hope this helps. If you’re doing Windows 7, you got to use PWBoot to tweak Windows 7 to run from external volume. And it’s finicky on some computers unlike Windows 8.

    • Ion

      To install Windows 8 to an external HDD, you need to apply the WIM file from the installation ISO to a bootable partition on the volume. You can do the same thing with Windows 7, but now instead of applying the hacks to make Windows successfully boot, Windows 8 comes with a bootable USB stack, it’ll simply detect it’s running from USB and adjust accordingly.

      Format the external HDD, then download and run GImageX, you shouldn’t need the WAIK kit to simply apply the WIM, so once you’re in, click the Apply tab, find the WIM, and choose the destination as the correct partition and start the process.

      Once you applied the WIM to a partition on the external HDD, download and run EasyBCD and install BCD to the volume. Then, add the partition to the boot menu. Once done doing that, your external HDD should be ready for boot. Simply boot from it, and Windows will boot and install drivers, adjust to your setup and then welcome you to Windows 8.

      Hope this helps. If you’re doing Windows 7, you got to use PWBoot to tweak Windows 7 to run from external volume. And it’s finicky on some computers unlike Windows 8.

  • Anonymous

    you can say, linux has done this for years. I say, one less reason to use linux.

  • Anonymous

    you can say, linux has done this for years. I say, one less reason to use linux.

  • franz99

    Windows To Go inside Windows 8 available in Windows 8 Pro, Ultimate or only ENTERPRISE ?

    • Chris

      No one knows. The reason no one knows is because:

      - Windows 8 is just a codename for now.
      - Microsoft has not yet announced what versons, if any, there will be of Windows 8. for all we know Microsoft may KISS and just have a single version. 

    • franz99

      Well !

      The is this  « Windows To Go inside Windows 8 » feature present and
      working in the actual « Windows
      Developer Preview English, 32-bit (x86) 6.2.8102 »  which is the version that is at the moment
      available for download ?

  • Michael Hole

    Where can we find this feature to install it on our developer previews?

  • franz99

    Well
    Then is this « Windows To Go inside Windows 8 » feature present and working in
    the actual « Windows
    Developer Preview English, 32-bit (x86) 6.2.build 8102 »

    which is the version that is at the moment available
    for download ?

  • franz99

    You seem pretty well informed about the change of name
    of this long expected feature …

     

    But I could not find this « Windows To Go inside Windows 8 » alias « Portable WorkSpace »  feature present
    and working in the actual « Windows Developer
    Preview English, 32-bit (x86) 6.2.8102 » which is the version that is at
    the moment available for download.

    And this even after disabling the ‘Metro menu’ and and enabling
    the classical ‘Start menu’ like in Windows 7.

     

    So I hope
    that this feature is going to reappear in the beta or at least ine the final  releases

    This a
    thing to follow very closely …

     

  • franz99

    You seem pretty well informed about the change of name
    of this long expected feature …

     

    But I could not find this « Windows To Go inside Windows 8 » alias « Portable WorkSpace »  feature present
    and working in the actual « Windows Developer
    Preview English, 32-bit (x86) 6.2.8102 » which is the version that is at
    the moment available for download.

    And this even after disabling the ‘Metro menu’ and and enabling
    the classical ‘Start menu’ like in Windows 7.

     

    So I hope
    that this feature is going to reappear in the beta or at least ine the final  releases

    This a
    thing to follow very closely …

     

  • Günter Born

    @franz99: Your question “But I don’t know if it it possible to « transportthis feature » to the actual build 8102 “Windows 8 Developer Preview” is answered at http://www.borncity.com/blog/2011/09/18/how-to-create-your-own-windows-8-to-go-developer-preview/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Supa-Likah/100002758459963 Supa Likah

    The returning of MS-DOS!!!

  • Gborn

    In the article below I discussed (as user Ion suggested above), how to create Win8 To Go Developer Preview on a 16 GByte thumb drive (but it should be an USB 3.0 device – my USB 2.0 memory stick is terrible slow, to slow for a practical use). No more need for Build 7850 or 7889 – just a running Windows 8, the ISO-Image for Developer Preview and imagex from WAIK are required.

    http://www.borncity.com/blog/2011/09/21/creating-windows-8-to-go-on-a-16-gb-usb-stick/

  • Elliconnon

    This is a hoax. I have downloaded the Windows 8 Developmen Preview and tried to install it on External USB but it didn’t work. It says that the earlier versions do not include the feature… Lads, if you are saying something like that publicly, just don’t make everybody lough at me as a stupid idiot that heard what you said.