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Windows To Go: Screenshots

Windows 8 Enterprise includes the tools needed to make a Windows To Go USB drive. Here's how it's done.

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Topic: Windows
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1 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Windows To Go is a full Windows install, just running from a flash drive. It gets access to all a host PC's processing power and memory — but not its disk drives or other storage. Everything you do stays on the flash drive, ready to move to another PC.

Screenshots: Simon Bisson, ZDNet

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2 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

To find the Windows To Go workspace creation tool, just start typing its name on the Start screen. You'll find the tool in the Settings results, right at the top of the list.

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3 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Windows 8 Enterprise comes with a simple wizard for setting up Windows To Go USB sticks. All you need is a suitable memory stick — Microsoft recommends USB 3.0 — with plenty space, and access to a suitable install image file. Start by selecting the USB drive you intend to use.

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4 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Next you'll need to select the image you want to use. IT administrators can use tools like the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to build the appropriate WIM format files, embedding apps and customising installation options — or you can just extract the install.wim from a Windows install DVD.

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5 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

It's a good idea to ensure that Windows To Go USB drives are encrypted, as they're likely to contain sensitive documents (especially if they're in sync with a work PC). There's support for BitLocker, Microsoft's whole disk encryption technology, and you can enable it when you install Windows To Go.

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6 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

There's not much else to do when creating Windows To Go workspaces. Once you've put everything in place, just click the Create button and files and drivers will be installed on your USB stick.

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7 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

It takes as long to create a Windows To Go USB device as it does to install Windows — so expect to wait fifteen minutes or so (less if you're using a device connected to a USB 3.0 port). Once the process has started there's no need for user intervention, so you can carry on with other tasks.

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Once the Windows To Go installer has finished running, you'll be given the option of setting your PC to automatically boot from a USB device next time you start — something that's useful if you're going to be using Windows To Go as your default workspace. In practice, however, you're more likely to be using it with a home PC, or on the road.

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Once booted into Windows To Go, a PC can only work with the file system on the drive — hence the requirement for high-performance USB 3.0 devices. You'll need at least 32GB of storage to ensure there's room for your applications and files — as Windows itself will take over 18GB, with 3GB reserved for system use.

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10 of 10 Simon Bisson/ZDNet

Don't expect to be able to use the Windows Store from Windows To Go. Instead, install images can be prepopulated with apps, or apps can be pushed to users' sticks using PowerShell. If it's absolutely necessary to give your users access to the Store, you can use Group Policy to enable access for individuals or groups.

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