Microsoft introduced a new feature with Windows called Windows to Go. The feature is more of a process of creating a USB drive with a complete, managed Windows 10/8 system image. In short, a fully functional and manageable copy of Windows 10/8! For creating such a managed Windows 11/10 system image, you need to insert your USB drive or Windows To Go workspace into any Windows host computer to boot and run the Windows 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 have support for the Boot To USB Hard Disk Drive startup option.
If you have wanted to create Windows To Go portable environment & workspace in Windows, the steps below will help you do it in a few minutes.
Create Windows To Go portable environment & workspace
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 a 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 10/8 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 shortcut to launch the Control Panel. Once there, select the 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.
Next, in the Choose a Windows image screen, select the desired mounted .ISO file and click ‘Next’.
Then, in the Set, a BitLocker password (optional) screen, select the Use BitLocker with my Windows To Go workspace checkbox if you would like to protect the drive with BitLocker Drive Encryption and follow the prompts to enter and confirm a BitLocker password.
After this, in the Ready to create your Windows to Go workspace screen, choose the Create option to create the Windows To Go workspace.
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.
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.
Be sure your Windows To Go workspace has the latest device drivers. So, check for updates always!
The images and tutorials have been sourced from Microsoft’s document.
If you don’t have Windows Enterprise, you can use Windows To Go Creator to create Windows To Go portable workspace.
Can you still use Windows To Go?
Microsoft discontinued the Windows To Go feature in Windows 10 version 2004 and Windows 11. Even if you create it using an old ISO file, it will not be updated, and there will be a way you will be able to stay on the latest version. Microsoft also states that since it works with specific USB devices, the OEMs will also not support it. However, installing Windows on a USB device may be possible using third-party software.