Create Windows To Go portable environment & workspace

Microsoft introduced a new feature with Windows 8 called Windows to Go. The feature is more a process of creating a USB drive with a complete, managed Windows 8 system image. In short, a fully functional and manageable copy of Windows 8! For creating such a managed Windows 8 system image, you need to insert your USB drive or Windows To Go workspace, into any Windows 7 | 8 host computer to boot and run Windows 8 system without installing any software on the host computer.

The best part of creating Windows to Go portable is that it works with any machine – desktop, laptop, or slate PC. Moreover, when you connect a Windows To Go workspace (USB Drive) to a USB port on a host computer, the workspace is isolated from the host system’s hard drive so the hard drive cannot be compromised or infected. The device i.e. your computer should just have support for the Boot To USB Hard Disk Drive startup option.

If you have been wanting to create Windows To Go portable environment & workspace in Windows 8, the steps below will help you do it in few minutes time.

Windows To Go Step By Step

First off, for creating a Windows To Go workspace, you will have to use the Windows To Go creator provisioning tool.  The tool is accessible from the Windows 8 Control Panel (Enterprise Edition only). Once you open it, you will be requested to ask your administrators for sharing a copy of the Windows OS installation image file (also known as a .WIM file). You will be required to copy this file to your DOWNLOADS library folder.

Alternatively, you could request your administrators to provide a Windows OS installation image file in DVD-ready format (also known as a .ISO file), which you can copy to your DOWNLOADS library folder.

Once you are done with the downloading part, you will need to open your Downloads folder on the host computer, press and hold (or right-click with the mouse) the Windows 8 installation image .ISO file, and tap or click MOUNT ISO. The file appears as a disk drive on your host computer.

Then, simply access the Settings charm or use a short-cut to launch the Control Panel. Once there, select Windows To Go option. Later, insert a USB drive into a USB port on the host computer. Before doing so ensure you have saved all the essential files to a suitable location as the USB drive will be reformatted and all data will be deleted when you provision it.

You will observe that the provisioning tool displays any attached USB drives. Select the USB drive you want to use, and then tap/click Next.

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Next, in the Choose a Windows 8 image screen select the desired mounted .ISO file and click ‘Next’.

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Then, in the Set a BitLocker password (optional) screen, select the Use BitLocker with my Windows To Go workspace check box if you would like to protect the drive with BitLocker Drive Encryption, and follow the prompts to enter and confirm a BitLocker password.

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After this, in the Ready to create your Windows to Go workspace screen, choose the Create option to create the Windows To Go workspace.

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Instantly, the provisioning tool will initiate the process of creating a USB drive. The process may take some time. After the provisioning is complete, tap/click Save and restart the host computer. Launch the Control Panel app, choose System and Security, and then BitLocker Drive Encryption.

In the BitLocker Drive Encryption dialog box, select the option – Suspend protection.

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Now, when you connect a Windows To Go workspace to a new host computer and restart the host computer, Windows To Go will automatically detect and apply the necessary configuration updates before the Windows logon.

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Be sure your Windows To Go workspace has the latest device drivers. So, check for updates always!

The images and the tutorial, has been sourced from a document released by Microsoft. You can download it here.

If you don’t have Windows 8 Enterprise, you can use Windows To Go Creator to create Windows To Go portable workspace.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.