Windows To Go: Usefulness and Limitations

Posted on April 1, 2013 by Eugene Rudenko

Sometimes you may encounter a situation when you need to launch your own Windows OS on another computer (actually, that’s how the idea of this post came to me). The reasons for such need may be different: you may need your exact settings, or you don’t want to leave the signs of your work on another computer even in temporary files, etc. Specialists in computer services and recovery create different version of operating system that allow booting on devices with viruses or on ones that simply have problems with stable OS performance.

Windows to go

For these purposes Microsoft has created a special mode called Windows To Go which is available in Windows 8 Enterprise. Windows To Go is a powerful official tool that allows transferring the Windows OS to USB drive and with its help to boot a computer without Windows OS installation.

Windows To Go can be launched both on desktops and on laptops, and even on tablets. The license agreement doesn’t allow installing this option on computers and laptops when selling them, because its main purpose is the fulfillment of supplementary service tasks in special situation, not continuous work.

In general, Windows To Go is an official portable version of Windows 8 developed by Microsoft. Unlike many its analogues created by third-party developers this version can be fully managed from the corporate Windows environment of the enterprise. Windows To Go can be launched on different devices and it will remember individual settings of each one. For each of the computers where this software will be launched it will detect and remember all necessary devices and drivers. And after the following boots the system will launch the drivers for this specific computer. Windows To Go is fully compatible with standard Windows versions but you should bear in mind most of the programs and applications are not intended for use with portable OS and they can perform incorrectly when launched under the Windows they weren’t installed on.

For creating Windows To Go you’ll need USB drive with no less than 16 Gb capacity (32 Gb is recommended). It may support both 2.0 and 3.0 protocols. The creation of Windows To Go is done with the help of Portable Workspace Creator which is included into Windows 8. You should also be aware of the fact that the USB drive shouldn’t be connected via USB hub. Also the first boot of Windows To Go will take more time than the following ones because the system will download the necessary drivers.

Windows To Go limitations:

Windows To Go has some limitations if compared to usual desktop version.

  • The functions of automatic hibernation and Sleep mode are turned off. The system initially has all modes that shut off power disabled. The purpose of such a decision is to decrease the risk of damaging of the equipment the system is launched on. If necessary, automatic shutdown can be enabled in the group policy settings.

  • All computer drives are turned off on the logical level. In most cases, the use of Windows To Go is connected with system recovery after the computer is infected with viruses. That’s why during the first boot Windows To Go will disconnect all computer drives. After the boot the disks are unseen in the Windows Explorer. But this setting can be changes as well.

  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is not used. If you turn on the information encrypting system in Windows To Go, Windows own system password will be used and not BitLocker Drive Encryption. This is due to the fact that TPM is connected with a specific computer which contradicts the main Windows To Go purpose.

  • Windows Recovery Environment mode is absent. In case the drive with Windows To Go installed on it is damaged, it will be impossible to recover Windows To Go via standard Windows recovery system. You will need to create new Windows To Go drive.

  • Reboot with the help of pressing a button on your system unit is not possible. For safety reasons Windows To Go doesn’t take into consideration the commands from computer hardware.

In general, I’d recommend having such a tool always at hand. System recovery is a quite frequent operation and this feature will help you to perform it without much trouble.

About Eugene Rudenko

About the Author: Eugene Rudenko is a copywriter for IT company www.intellectsoft.net.

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