Category Archives: Windows To Go

Using “Windows 8 on a USB”

I want to share my experience of running Windows 8 on a USB drive. This supported feature, dubbed, “Windows To Go” or WTG provides users of enterprise SKUs an option to run Windows 8 off a USB drive on a host computer that has Windows 7 (it could be any OS AFIAK.).

Initial disclaimer: My host PC was on Windows 7 and I don’t know what other OS is supported on the host PC.

The USB drive that I used to setup WTG is a Western Digital Passport drive with 1 TB capacity. It is USB 3.0 ready.

Setting up WTG:

  1. Setting up WTG is straight forward and easy. From a Win8 PC running an enterprise SKU, search for “Windows To Go” on the Start screen.
  2. Change the Search scope to “Settings” and then click on the “Windows To Go” application from the search result list.
  3. When the application launches, plug in your USB drive.
  4. From the Windows To Go application, choose the installation media for Win8. Please note, you can only choose an enterprise version of Windows 8 to setup with WTG.
  5. The setup application prompts to format the USB disk and setup a bitlocker password. Provide a bitlocker password and confirm the same.
  6. Setup then proceeds to install WTG on the USB drive. The entire process should take about 20 minutes to complete.
  7. Towards the end of the process, you are prompted to change boot options to boot into a WTG device v/s the physical disk on the host PC.
  8. Accept the change and reboot the machine.
  9. The system now boots into the WTG drive and proceeds to complete the Win8 installation.
  10. Once the installation is complete (including creating first user etc), you are good to go.
  11. Remember to shut down the WTG instance before unplugging your USB drive.
  12. Enjoy full Win8 portability!!!

I setup WTG at Office and brought the drive home. In order to boot into WTG, you might have to change the boot order in BIOS, which is what I had to do. Reboot and voila the system boots into WTG. I did not notice an perf degradation while booting from a USB HDD.

In addition to plain vanilla OS, my WTG image also has VS 2012 installed and so far I have not run into any issues and am very happy with the way things just work with minimal hassles 🙂