Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Windows To Go with the Windows 8.1 update

  1. #1


    Posts : 22,576
    64-bit Windows 10

    Windows To Go with the Windows 8.1 update


    Hard to believe its been just over a year that Windows To Go has been generally available. I remember watching some of the very early demos dating back to //build in September of 2011 and seeing the excitement generated by this great feature. To be honest, a quick demo of Windows To Go to those seeing it for the very first time still creates quite a bit of excitement.

    For those that may not know what Im talking about, Windows To Go is Windows 8.1 Enterprise deployed on a certified Windows To Go drive, versus installed directly on the hard drive of the host machine. Simply insert the drive into a compatible device, power on and boot into your own personalized Windows 8.1 Enterprise experience. Windows To Go is perfect for a variety of scenarios, including BYOD, supporting contractors or vendor workforces, or working from home. For a broader look at scenarios and use cases, visit our Windows To Go technology page.

    Wondering if this is a stripped down version of Windows? Or how Windows To Go differs from Windows on your hard drive, or what works and what doesnt? Well, with Windows 8.1, these are pretty simple questions to answer: almost everything you know and love about Windows, you can now know and love about Windows To Go. DirectAccess, check. BitLocker, check. Domain Join, Group Policy, BranchCache, check, check and check. And new for Windows 8.1 and different from Windows 8, the Windows Store is enabled by default.

    Wait, what? Is Craig saying, I can now access the Windows Store from my Windows To Go drive, purchase and install apps, as well as keep all of my apps updated, just like on my tablet or desktop? Correct. While this is not possible on a Windows To Go drive running Windows 8 Enterprise, it was a key focus area of support in Windows 8.1. Now just to note, there are a few differences to be aware of between Windows To Go and a typical installation of Windows.

    In addition to new Windows Store access capabilities, a Windows To Go image running Windows 8.1 is capable of booting from a composite drive that contains a built-in smart card. These composite drives have both a mass storage drive and smart card together in one device. The smart card can be enumerated when booting from the Windows To Go drive or by connecting the device to another host machine. If you are interested in specific information about smart cards in Windows 8.1, see What's New in Smart Cards. Its important to note this new functionality requires both Windows 8.1 Enterprise and a Windows To Go certified composite drive. The first drives passing certification and supporting these requirements are the SPYRUS WorkSafe and WorkSafe Pro drives.

    While the above is a brief description of Windows To Go and new features with Windows 8.1 Enterprise, I urge you to head on over to TechNet where there is a treasure trove of great IT Pro information available related to Windows To Go. And have fun testing, trialing and deploying Windows To Go.

    1. Windows To Go Feature Overview
    2. Windows To Go Demo
    3. Prepare Your Organization for Windows To Go
    4. Deployment Considerations for Windows To Go
    5. Deploy Windows To Go
    6. Using Windows To Go
    7. Security and Data Protection Considerations for Windows To Go
    8. Best Practice Recommendations for Windows To Go
    9. Hardware Considerations and Windows To Go Certified Drives
    10. Windows To Go Frequently Asked Questions
    11. Tips for Configuring Your BIOS Settings to Boot from Windows To Go


    This blog post is part of a series of guest posts were publishing from Windows 8.1 experts across Microsoft. Ben

    Craig Ashley
    Senior Product Marketing Manager
    Windows Commercial

    More...


    See also:


      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Germany/Florida
    Posts : 4,514
    Vista and Win7


    Nice, but who has the Enterprise edition. I still have to live with my 'poor mans to go' - but that works with any OS and any edition.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Hafnarfjrur IS
    Posts : 4,376
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10


    Hi there

    Don't forget also this can be made for "Non Certified" devices too. Read link at bottom of my post.

    Unlike most people's home made portable OS'es this DOESN'T need any sort of HOST computer OS to boot and run it - even if the HOST computer has broken disks or none at all in it.

    BTW those without TechNet subscriptions (TechNet has W8.1 enterprise) or Work availability can still try this out by downloading the FREE 90 day trial of ENTERPRISE from the Ms site. Use W 8.1 it's more up to date.

    Download Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation

    Windows to Go behaves just like Windows in every way -- you can even boot on any bootable device - even if there's no functioning HDD in the computer -- running from a USB3 external disk or even an SSD connected to a USB2 or SATA external port gives perfectly good performance and runs just like windows -- read / write on ALL Volumes. You can install things like Office, multi-media etc etc.

    Here's the link to creating "Non Certified" Windows to go.

    Creating a Non-Certified Windows To Go USB Drive ADMIN Magazine

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Quote Originally Posted by whs View Post
    Nice, but who has the Enterprise edition. I still have to live with my 'poor mans to go' - but that works with any OS and any edition.
    Just out of curiosity, what's the difference between a Microsoft Community Contributor and an MVP? I was thinking the Community Contributor was a higher distinction now I'm not so sure. As an MVP I get a free MSDN and TechNet subscription. That gets me 8.1 Enterprise and Windows To Go. I have Enterprise on my laptop now just so I could setup a Windows To Go drive. Like Jimbo said, I was cautioned that performance may suffer because it wasn't a certified device but it let me create it anyway. My WTG is 8.1, haven't played with it all that much other than to boot up to it and make sure it works. It synced with my other PC fine. I used the original spinner drive that came in my laptop mounted in a USB 3 external drive enclosure. It's only a 5400 RPM drive so that likely had something to do with the poor performance message.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
    Hi there

    Don't forget also this can be made for "Non Certified" devices too. Read link at bottom of my post.

    Unlike most people's home made portable OS'es this DOESN'T need any sort of HOST computer OS to boot and run it - even if the HOST computer has broken disks or none at all in it.

    BTW those without TechNet subscriptions (TechNet has W8.1 enterprise) or Work availability can still try this out by downloading the FREE 90 day trial of ENTERPRISE from the Ms site. Use W 8.1 it's more up to date.

    Download Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation

    Windows to Go behaves just like Windows in every way -- you can even boot on any bootable device - even if there's no functioning HDD in the computer -- running from a USB3 external disk or even an SSD connected to a USB2 or SATA external port gives perfectly good performance and runs just like windows -- read / write on ALL Volumes. You can install things like Office, multi-media etc etc.

    Here's the link to creating "Non Certified" Windows to go.

    Creating a Non-Certified Windows To Go USB Drive ADMIN Magazine

    Cheers
    jimbo
    The actual official WTG hides the drives in the host PC you boot it from. You can see them in Disk Management but they don't have any drive letters assigned so they don't show up in My PC/explorer. Likely done to avoid confusion and prevent you from messing up the host OS. The Windows To Go drive is also hidden if you plug the drive into an already running Windows PC. I have office 2013 installed on mine plus a few Apps I use. It looks and feels just like any other Windows 8.1 install.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Germany/Florida
    Posts : 4,514
    Vista and Win7


    A Microsoft Community Contributor was a title given to me after sponsership by the sevenforums. But it does not come with the Technet sunscription and some of the other goodies you MVPs get.

    As a private person who is not integrated into an enterprise, the WTG has different applications anyhow. For data recovery (mostely on friend's systems that were mucked up) I use this Linux version. This is quick to produce and setup and performs very well - especially from a USB3 stick. Plus I like Mint Mate better than 8.1 anyhow.

    This other approach that I quoted runs any OS under VMware Player from an external device - preferably an external SSD on USB3 (VMware Player does not support eSata). That requires a running VMware Player on the system you want to apply it but that could be a VMware Player running from a Linux host. I run Windows 8 and several Linux distros that way. Advantage is that I need to maintain only one system and need only one product key (in the case of 8.1) to run it on any PC I own. That is very practical for me because I move around in 3 homes in the US and Europe where I have 6 PCs in total. Thus I always have up-to-date systems carried on my SSD.

    The performance btw. is outstanding - even from a USB2 port. As an example, the boot time (event 100 in Event Viewer) is only about 20% slower from the external SSD than from the internal Sata attached SSD and for the rest of the operation I do not really notice any difference.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Hafnarfjrur IS
    Posts : 4,376
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10


    Hi there.

    @WHS -- this is also a great way of running a "Portable" OS.

    Just as a curiosity would you get better performance if you ran your Windows VM on XEN or KVM -- that way you could paravirtualise the whole thing with a small Linux Hypervisor which should boost performance to something like 95% of Native speed especially with a USB3 device -- OPENSUSE for example supports USB3 now so no problem there - other distros might do the same.

    If you are using the portable OS for recovering broken machines or for diagnostics then I suppose really fast performance isn't really an issue - but I'd like to have a fully working OS with things like OFFICE etc installed which I could use on different client sites -- as I can't really use my TechNet Windows to Go - not intended for "Production" use --especially if I'm being PAID by clients.

    I've been messing around with a few Linux distos as VM's trying out the XEN / KVM systems -- however running a second level VM won't get great performance - but it's fine for testing !! - I can then optimise it and do a V2P conversion to get the Linux Hypervisor on an external device. Still testing though.

    (I prefer the Paravirtualisation method as this means your VM should work on whatever host you run it -- if you fully virtualise it the VM will read the REAL hardware which isn't always what you want and the performance will be slower).

    Cheers

    jimbo
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Germany/Florida
    Posts : 4,514
    Vista and Win7


    I have not yet tried a Linux host with VMware Player because all my host systems are Windows. I run Linux only in virtual. But the overall performance of the systems on the external SSD is so good that I never worried about that part.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Quote Originally Posted by whs View Post
    A Microsoft Community Contributor was a title given to me after sponsership by the sevenforums. But it does not come with the Technet sunscription and some of the other goodies you MVPs get.

    As a private person who is not integrated into an enterprise, the WTG has different applications anyhow. For data recovery (mostely on friend's systems that were mucked up) I use this Linux version. This is quick to produce and setup and performs very well - especially from a USB3 stick. Plus I like Mint Mate better than 8.1 anyhow.

    This other approach that I quoted runs any OS under VMware Player from an external device - preferably an external SSD on USB3 (VMware Player does not support eSata). That requires a running VMware Player on the system you want to apply it but that could be a VMware Player running from a Linux host. I run Windows 8 and several Linux distros that way. Advantage is that I need to maintain only one system and need only one product key (in the case of 8.1) to run it on any PC I own. That is very practical for me because I move around in 3 homes in the US and Europe where I have 6 PCs in total. Thus I always have up-to-date systems carried on my SSD.

    The performance btw. is outstanding - even from a USB2 port. As an example, the boot time (event 100 in Event Viewer) is only about 20% slower from the external SSD than from the internal Sata attached SSD and for the rest of the operation I do not really notice any difference.
    OK, thanks for clearing that up for me. I'm retired now due to my chronic back pain. For me the Windows To Go is something that might come in handy when I get stuck with PC that's messed up. I've never really done much on the Linux side of things and I'd spend a lot of time just finding my way around. Having something I already know how to use is handy for me so that's what I use.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Germany/Florida
    Posts : 4,514
    Vista and Win7


    I know what backpains are - Two of my discs have disappeared. My eyedoctor one day recommended the Omega XL pills. They work real well and have no side effects like Ibuprofen which can kill you (if you take too many)..

    Another thing to check is whether the pains don't come from the Periformis Muscle which is not uncommon at a certain age. There are gymnastic exercises you can do to relieve that.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Windows To Go with the Windows 8.1 update
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