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[Tutorial]Windows 8 to Go without Enterprise Edition

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#1 ingramator

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 04:16

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Windows to Go

Hey guys this is a tutorial on how to set up a Windows to Go (a live Windows 8 boot) USB using any version of Windows provided you have a copy of Windows 8.

Things you will need:
  • A USB or external HDD with 16GB of space (It is actually possible to do it onto an 8GB drive but depending on its actual formatted capacity you may have to remove a few drivers etc.)
  • A copy of a Windows 8 disc or ISO (Any version is fine including upgrade ones) you can grab a free 90 trial here
  • Less that 30 minutes of time depending on your hardware
Instructions:
  • Locate your Windows 8 disc or ISO and mount it
  • Navigate to \sources and copy the install.wim file to your desktop or other convenient location
  • Insert your USB or HDD and format the partition as NTFS with the default allocation
  • Download the free GImageX (http://www.softpedia...s/GImageX.shtml) and extract it
  • Run the x86 or x64 version depending on the version of Windows you are using
  • Navigate to the "Apply" tab
  • In the source section enter or browse for the location of the install.wim we copied earlier
  • In the destination section enter or browse for the location of the device you want to use for Windows to Go
  • Leave the checkboxes unchecked and hit apply
  • After imaging process is complete navigate to Disk Management (type in partition at search and you will find it)
  • Find the partition you are using for Windows to Go and right click it then -> "Mark partition as active" - this will allow us to boot from this partition, if its already active then don't worry about this step
  • Navigate to your Windows to Go disk and go to \Windows\System32
  • Open up CMD from this location (or change directory to the above folder) and enter
    bcdboot.exe X:\Windows /s X: /f ALL
    where "X" is your Windows To Go drive letter
  • Congratulations! Your Windows to Go device is now ready and all you will have to do is boot from the USB at startup then run through the one time configuration settings!
Tips:

  • Double check the drive letter when flashing the device because if you have other partitions then you will screw them up
  • Use a USB device with a high read/write rate because it will enhance disk IO performance on the machine you are running it on. USB 3.0 and or an SSD will greatly increase performance!
  • Copy a few installers to a folder on the USB for easy setup when you're up and running
  • Try not to unplug your Windows to Go device whilst the computer is still running because it may cause data corruption but if you do you will have 1 minute before it shuts down
  • You can use this method to quickly flash SSDs, HDDs, USBs and SDs with a custom image of Windows 8!
If you have any problem feel free to comment below and PM me!

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#2 remixedcat

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 04:27

Does this work on Server 2012??

#3 vcfan

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 04:44

yeah I've used this method before to run windows 8 from a USB drive on an older netbook that didn't have much hard drive space. works great

#4 OP ingramator

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 04:46

Does this work on Server 2012??


Yep! Same method but just use the Server 2012 ISO.

#5 remixedcat

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 05:06

Awesome! Thank you!

#6 George P

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 08:36

Sweet, this will be helpful.

#7 UXGaurav

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:44

Btw does this allow installing Store apps? On Windows 8 Enterprise, there is a policy "Allow Store to install apps on Windows To Go workspaces" which enables the Store inside the Windows To Go workspace. If that policy is enabled, will it work with this method?

#8 OP ingramator

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:58

Btw does this allow installing Store apps? On Windows 8 Enterprise, there is a policy "Allow Store to install apps on Windows To Go workspaces" which enables the Store inside the Windows To Go workspace. If that policy is enabled, will it work with this method?


It sure does! On your Windows to Go device just follow the instructions here (just instruction on enabling that group policy) to enable the store apps and they work perfectly (that policy is on Windows 8/Pro/RT/ and Server 2012)! You could bake that setting into your image if you were making a lot of portable workspaces but I've just done mine manually and it's no trouble at all.

#9 OP ingramator

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 23:40

Confirmed working with Server 2012 Datacentre!

#10 Gnieus

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 00:00

This is rather cool! Cheers for the tutorial.

#11 OP ingramator

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 06:36

This is rather cool! Cheers for the tutorial.


No worries man! It is rather cool if I dare say so myself! I often use it to flash HDDs over a USB 3 to SATA III cable! Get your OS up and running in no time!

#12 astroXP

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 19:37

I know Microsoft has provided a list for certified USB flash drives that will guarantee Windows To Go … but, is it possible or recommended to use any other USB besides the ones that are officially certified? Sure, it has to be USB 3.0 (preferable) and above 16GB.

Has anyone found any issues with using uncertified USBs?

#13 OP ingramator

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:36

I know Microsoft has provided a list for certified USB flash drives that will guarantee Windows To Go … but, is it possible or recommended to use any other USB besides the ones that are officially certified? Sure, it has to be USB 3.0 (preferable) and above 16GB.

Has anyone found any issues with using uncertified USBs?


Nope! The certified USBs basically just ensure data read/write consistency as well as capacity. Every USB I have (and believe me I have a LOAD) works fine but of course the USB3s and higher class SDs work a lot better. You can pretty much guarantee my technique to work on all USBs with any edition of Windows 8/Server 2012 :) What I will say however is that some USB's don't play nice at booting off them but they are usually generics which don't follow standard USB protocol!

#14 The_Observer

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:49

Wow this is great, can i ask why people would want server 2012 running on this?

#15 astroXP

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 22:03

Nope! The certified USBs basically just ensure data read/write consistency as well as capacity. Every USB I have (and believe me I have a LOAD) works fine but of course the USB3s and higher class SDs work a lot better. You can pretty much guarantee my technique to work on all USBs with any edition of Windows 8/Server 2012 :) What I will say however is that some USB's don't play nice at booting off them but they are usually generics which don't follow standard USB protocol!


Sweet! Thanks :D