Windows To Go is a new feature of Windows 8 that allows a full version of Windows 8 to boot from a USB drive. You can use the Windows 8 USB key to boot into any laptop, or desktop, and retain access to all of your files and apps. You will not disturb the files, or operating system, on the host machine.
Since the Windows 8 requirements are lower than Windows 7, it should run fine on older machines. The following Windows 8 To Go USB key was created with the Windows 8 consumer preview.
- 32 GB or larger USB Flash (or Hard) Drive
- Windows 8 (or Windows 7 with Daemon Tools Lite or similar program that peers into ISO files) machine to build the USB drive on.
- Windows 8 ISO image.
- Copy the ImageX.exe executable acquired from the Windows 7 Automated Installation Kit to any folder (for example, place it on c:\win8usb).
ImageX.exe can be found in C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64 or C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86
Create a Windows 8 To Go USB Device:
- Open the Windows AIK command prompt
- List Disk
- Select Disk 1 (Replace 1 with the number that reflects your USB Drive)
- Create partition primary
- format fs=ntfs quick
Double click the Windows 8 ISO mount it in Windows 8. Or if you are on Windows 7, use Daemon Tools Lite or any other program that you use to peer into ISO files. Browse to the ISO files in Explorer and copy \sources\install.wim to the same folder as you copied Imagex.exe (c:\win8usb).
Identify the drive letter assigned to your USB drive (for example, d:\). Open a command prompt and run the following command from the folder that contains ImageX.exe and install.wim (c:\win8usb).
- ImageX.exe /apply install.wim 1 d:\ (Replace d:\ with the drive letter of your USB drive)
- It will take HOURS, but once the image has applied you need to setup the boot record on the USB Drive. Open an administrative level command prompt and run command on step 3. If you are on Windows 7, skip ahead to Step 4.
- bcdboot.exe d:\windows /s d: /f ALL (Replace d:\ with the drive letter of your USB drive)
- When you run the bcdboot.exe d:\windows /s d: /f ALL command on a Windows 7 machine, you will get an error. The version of bcdboot in Windows 7 doesn't support the same options, such as /f.
No worries! You already have Windows 8 already loaded on the USB flash drive/hard drive (which you did in step 1). You can copy the bcdboot.exe from your Windows 8 to your Windows 7 machine or execute it in place. The right version can be found on H:\Windows\System32\bcdboot.exe (If H:\ is your USB flash drive/hard drive letter. Once you have it copied the correct bcdboot.exe rerun Step 3 above.
Since it is using resources on the USB key (such as swap) it will not be as fast as a regular desktop/laptop. There are a few bugs as well. During one install, I was not able to access my Hotmail account for logging on. I had to create a local account, then assign it later. I also had some issues connecting to the wireless, this happened on several laptops so it wasn't a specific hardware problem. On the people hub, the status was showing incorrectly for some people.
Functionally, Windows 8 To Go does work, but I would rather use the traditional method, working on a pure Windows 8 workstation. I will continue to test Windows 8 To Go and I will report back any findings. This is still the consumer preview, and I hope all of these bugs and performance issues will be worked out by full release.
How To is a segment where I show you how to do something. I spend a lot of time coming up with new ways to do things and I’m happy to share it with you.