Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Create a Windows To Go USB Drive

With Windows 8 coming within a few months it's good to have a look a new functionality. One way to install Windows 8 is on a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk). New in Windows 8 is the option to mount VHD files and boot from it! A guide to install Windows 8 on a VHD can be found HERE. Great that so many people viewed this blogpost to install it that way. In this blogpost I explain the new Windows To Go functionality.

Windows To Go is an enterprise feature of Windows 8 that enables users to boot Windows from a USB-connected external drive. Windows To Go drives can use the same image enterprises use for their desktops and laptops and can be managed the same way. Windows To Go is not intended to replace desktops, laptops or supplant other mobility offerings. Rather, it provides support for efficient use of resources for alternative workplace scenarios.

 You need the following for installation:

  • 16 GB or larger USB 2.0 / 3.0 Drive
  • Windows 8 Release Preview ISO (download HERE
  • ImageX.exe stand-alone straight from Microsoft (download HERE)

That way you don't have to download a full copy of Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows 7 (1.7 GB) found HERE.

How to Create a Windows To Go USB Drive:
  • Quick Format the USB device with NTFS, and create a partition on it
  • Extract or mount the Windows 8 ISO and copy the Install.wim file (Sources folder) to a folder where ImageX.exe is also placed
  • Have a look at the drive letter which is used for the USB device and type the following command: ImageX.exe /apply Install.wim 1 F:\ (where F: is the drive letter of your USB device)
  • The result (after some time) must be "Successfully applied image"
  • Once this is done the boot record on the USB device must be changed with the following command: Bcdboot.exe F:\Windows /s F: /f ALL (where F: is the drive letter of your USB device)
  • The result must be "Boot files successfully created" now

After the command has completed you are ready to use your new Windows To Go USB device. Now it's time to reboot your system and start from the USB device. There will be some final configuration during first start. During the session the USB device must be plugged in.

What a great year with many new Microsoft releases and functionality!

1 comment:

  1. Hello, thanks for your tutorial. I followed your instructions and obtained exactly the output you described but unfortunately usb disk does not boot (of course I changed boot sequence in my bios).
    I tried to use the win 8 consumer preview file and also my win 8 pro WIM image but same result...I receive the error "not system disk or disk error". Any ideas ?