One of the features brought forth in Windows 8 was Windows to Go.   A cool feature that allows you to deploy Windows onto an external USB stick.

First off the requirements (Note the licensing as well!)

A Supported version of Windows in this configuration when you have Software Assurance (This is the LICENSING requirement)

  • Windows 8.0 Enterprise
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Enterprise

A Certified Windows to Go Device (This gives you Support) The present list from Microsoft TechNet is as follows

For both Spyrus and Western Digital there is a special utility for each that is recommended to be used when Deploying Windows to Go. 

Once you have the proper pieces you will generally have two ways of deploying Windows to Go.  In the Windows Enterprise editions there is an option in the Control Panel marked “Windows To Go” which will take you through a Step by Step Wizard to build a Windows To Go key.

The end result of this process is a clean install of Windows Enterprise and nothing more magical than that.

The other process involves using one of many Scripts in PowerShell (Such as this example on TechNet) in which you manually target the Install.WIM file or your companies Gold image.   In all cases it must be an Enterprise version as well as on the proper device to get support for your users.   Also note that using Windows to Go on a MacBook is NOT supported at this time.

This Windows can be Joined to a domain as normal (manually) or you can drop your standard Unattend.xml directly into it’s file system to allow it to boot and Prepare itself normally as per your standard Out of Box Experience for your users.  

One of the other key pieces to note as well is if you want the device to TRULY roam, you’ll probably want to inject some NVidia or ATI drivers into the WIM file to allow proper video on more devices.  The same might be said for Network drivers as well.

Keep your eyes on near the end of this month (September 2015) as I’ll be posting a week long series on Windows To Go and PowerShell.

Cheers all!

The EnergizedTech