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Windows To Go with you wherever you go

You can carry your workspace in your pocket today. No. I am not talking about your smartphone that runs Windows Mobile. It is "Windows To Go with you everywhere you go".

Users of Windows 8.1 Enterprise (corporate customers who have Software assurance coverage) today have the luxury of creating a complete corporate image of their desktop - with apps and data – in a USB drive and carry it along wherever they go. Users can boot from this USB device into any compatible hardware (that has the configuration enough to run Windows 7) and start working on their applications, create files and manage their data. The host computer's underlying hardware and compute power is made use of by the OS and works in a sandboxed atmosphere – the internal/local hard -disks will be considered offline by the guest system. (Alternately, if a W2G device is inserted in a running system, it will not be listed by Windows explorer).

All of the great technologies available with Windows 8.1 Enterprise work with Windows To Go: Group Policy, BitLocker, BranchCache, AppLocker, App-V, User Experience Virtualization, and DirectAccess. Windows To Go is literally Windows 8.1 Enterprise in a pocket.

People who

  • want to work from home
  • want to use their own devices (BYOD scenarios)
  • want to evaluate the Windows 8.1 OS
  • want to remain productive in the unexpected events of PC crashes

might consider this WTG a very powerful feature.

Fortunately, there are a number of Windows to go certified USB devices the will give the user this wonderful mobile experience. Not using a Microsoft-certified USB disk comes with a few, potentially deal-breaking shortcomings: It's not an official Windows To Go image, and you don't get your personal (purchased) apps or other personalization on installation. Although you can install applications on the disk, you have to sync your purchased apps manually. What you do have is a fully functional Windows 8 system that's bootable from the USB drive. If you're using it as a portable desktop system, you have achieved your goal.

Apart from the local internal disks not being accessible, there are a few more things that we need to note while using WTG.

  • The Bitlocker dirve encryption will not use the Trusted Platform module (TPG) but only a pre-operating system boot password will be used for security.
  • Hybernate is disabled by default – can be enabled using group policies
  • Windows recovery environment is not available – a new image has to built again in the device in the event of a crash
  • Refreshing or resetting a Windows To Go workspace is not supported -
  • Windows store is disabled by default – can be enabled if the device will be locked to a certain hardware device

Windows To Go drives can be booted on multiple computers. When a Windows To Go workspace is first booted on a host computer it will detect all hardware on the computer and install any needed drivers. When the Windows To Go workspace is subsequently booted on that host computer it will be able to identify the host computer and load the correct set of drivers automatically.

The applications that you want to use from the Windows To Go workspace should be tested to make sure they also support roaming. Some applications bind to the computer hardware which will cause difficulties if the workspace is being used with multiple host computers.

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