Microsoft shows off Windows To Go feature for Windows 8

Yet another new feature for Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system was shown off on Thursday during the BUILD Conference. Computerworld.com reports that Microsoft demonstrated Windows To Go, which allows a person to copy their entire Windows 8 installation onto a USB drive. That drive can then be plugged into any PC or laptop which will then boot up Windows 8, with all of the person's files intact. The person can resume working on their own files and applications.

This service is apparently targeting enterprise users rather than consumers. One possible use is that a person's work PC could travel, via the USB drive, to a remote PC where it could be used instead of traveling with a heavy laptop. Windows To Go can allow the USB drive to boot up to Windows 8 even on a Windows 7 PC. While pricing has yet to be confirmed by Microsoft, the report claims that it could charge $50 per seat.

Techie Buzz has more info on Windows To Go, claiming that it can use both USB 2.0 and 3.0 with a large 32 GB USB stick recommended. However, a PC that's running off the Windows To Go USB drive won't be able to hibernate. If someone decides to pull out the USB drive from the PC when Windows To Go is running, it will freeze for 60 seconds. If the USB drive is put back in before the 60 seconds is up, the PC will pick up when it left off. If the USB Drive isn't put back within 60 seconds, the Windows To Go version of Windows 8 will shut down. You can check out the Windows To Go feature in the video below.

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I don't care about how many clicks it takes to shutdown.

I DO care that it seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to do so, both on the VM I have it installed on, and on the laptop that I've co-opted. I can be logged off, and logged back on my Windows 7 machine before the Win 8 decides that it's done logging off!

Many geeks tend to destroy an entire idea. It's simple; we instantly start and shutdown the system with the USB flash-drive. I liked this feature, and will use it a lot, no matter if need much or less clicks, if the feature has already been present in Mac... Whatever, I liked it and I will use it a lot.

Have I missed something, as the article seems to be about "Windows to Go" yet most people seem to be complaining about a rather pointless thing about how many clicks it takes to shutdown?

On topic, sounds like a good idea however.. you do read in the papers now and then about ministers etc leaving behind laptops, important documents etc, I would imagine a usb drive containing the entire contents of someones PC will be more likely left behind somewhere.

ThePitt said,
piece of crap. I dont know whats more painful if the metro interface or the way to turn off the computer

or you could just press the power button.... one button. you press it once, no need to click, you simply press the start button once and it turns off. It's only painful if your pc is on fire.

I dont understand Windows 8. Since Windows 95 there was this little button called "Start" that consolidated all the features for super quick and easy access. In Windows 8 everything is hidden and subverted under many clicks. In UI 101 classes you learn that the least number of clicks to access resources is the best choice, often no more than 2 clicks. This essentially takes the simplicity provided in Win95 - Win7 and throws it in the bin. Im sorry but a separate tablet OS from MS needs to be made that has a desktop as an app, for the rest of us just an awesome powerful desktop OK!!! Give us skydrive mounted under my computer, build in the same features into both in their own separate ways. Also DELETE that hiddeous ribbon from explorer. I noticed that i couldnt just use a slider to zoom in on my files now and that i had to firstly go to the view tab and then there is like a list box with view presets - that is a huge step backwards. Windows 7 explorer is really nice to look at and simple to use.

+1 about the start button

I understand the desire for the Metro Start screen for tablets and touchscreens but Microsoft is changing the core functionality of the desktop to accommodate that. Obviously sometimes change is for the better but that's not the case when launching apps, shutting down the computer and changing computer settings actually take longer than before. To me Win8 just isn't intuitive - it was the first time I felt lost using a new version of Windows.

Iridium said,
I dont understand Windows 8. Since Windows 95 there was this little button called "Start" that consolidated all the features for super quick and easy access. In Windows 8 everything is hidden and subverted under many clicks. In UI 101 classes you learn that the least number of clicks to access resources is the best choice, often no more than 2 clicks. This essentially takes the simplicity provided in Win95 - Win7 and throws it in the bin. Im sorry but a separate tablet OS from MS needs to be made that has a desktop as an app, for the rest of us just an awesome powerful desktop OK!!! Give us skydrive mounted under my computer, build in the same features into both in their own separate ways. Also DELETE that hiddeous ribbon from explorer. I noticed that i couldnt just use a slider to zoom in on my files now and that i had to firstly go to the view tab and then there is like a list box with view presets - that is a huge step backwards. Windows 7 explorer is really nice to look at and simple to use.

I agree with a few of your statements. The start screen isn't an exact replacement of the Start menu, and thus the missing things makes the Start screen a bit harder to work with, seeing as I still use mostly desktop programs. I only figured out today that you could shut down the computer from that Settings screen thing, and I figured out just a few days ago that while you're in the Start screen, typing will start an app search... These kinds of things are not easily visible to the user, and thus it's a bit more of a step backwards. (In Windows 7, when I opened the Start menu, I saw the search bar and shut down button right there... there was no guessing as to the easiest way to find them...)

And I too would love to see SkyDrive support added into Windows... Honestly, what's stopping them from implementing it? I don't see where the problem lies...

But I do like the Ribbon in Explorer. If you don't like it, just hide it. Simple as that. I do believe, however, that the Ribbon just needs to be refined a little... It's still not completely perfect... But having some kind of slider to change the icon size would be nice to have, I must say...

I do realize though that this is just a Milestone 3 build... Things can still change from now to RTM...

Seems like a nice feature. I'm just hoping there's absolutely no chance of anything happening to your Windows install by unplugging the USB incorrectly or anything. Lord knows Windows has issues with sudden shut downs...

using the dev prev. i hate to say it but i agree with techguy77 on the issue of the shutdown button but hey, its not yet rtm, it can change *for the better i hope*.
all in all i like it! maybe throw in personal customizations on the metro color pallet *not a fan of green and orange* and we're rockin!

.Neo- google "Windows7-USB-DVD-Download-Tool-Installer-en-US"

I honestly don't get why you can't just install Windows on any FireWire, USB or whatever drive. I've been doing that with Mac OS for ages, although USB wasn't supported until 2005-2006.

.Neo said,
I honestly don't get why you can't just install Windows on any FireWire, USB or whatever drive.

It is possible, I've been doing it since the XP days for portable testing, just not supported by the OS and have to jump through a few hoops to do it.. I do agree should have been a built in option from the get-go.

My point obviously is that you should be able to do this straight from within the Windows installer without jumping through any hoops, like Mac OS X. AFAIK it's next to impossible to get Windows to run off a FireWire drive.

.Neo said,
I honestly don't get why you can't just install Windows on any FireWire, USB or whatever drive. I've been doing that with Mac OS for ages, although USB wasn't supported until 2005-2006.

but OS X is not really portable, is it? I mean if you installed it on a MBP and then connected it to a iMac, will it work? (I guess it might but I've never really seen it done)

.Neo said,
My point obviously is that you should be able to do this straight from within the Windows installer without jumping through any hoops, like Mac OS X. AFAIK it's next to impossible to get Windows to run off a FireWire drive.

It's because when Windows goes and loads up the proper firewire drivers, and the handoff is made from whatever generic method the BIOS was doing to the more native, driver based one, there's a period where it no longer has access to anything, handles break, etc. It just wasn't designed to do that.

dhan said,

but OS X is not really portable, is it? I mean if you installed it on a MBP and then connected it to a iMac, will it work? (I guess it might but I've never really seen it done)

You've been able to install OS X on a thumb drive since at least 2007 and you've been able to run it from another Mac since the PowerMac/Book days (target disk mode).

margrave said,
The Win8 design still needs work. It's not ready for prime time.
That is what to expect from alphas...

I feel MS is showing too much now. Because so many people are judging it so long before release. Should have been a closed test.

x-byte said,
I feel MS is showing too much now. Because so many people are judging it so long before release. Should have been a closed test.

It would only have leaked anyway. It's a good strategy to openly distribute it, just so long as they monitor the feedback.

Capt. Obvious...ASPLODE.

I'm shocked that people still don't seem to grasp the fact that IT'S AN UNFINISHED DEV RELEASE.

ahhell said,
Capt. Obvious...ASPLODE.

I'm shocked that people still don't seem to grasp the fact that IT'S AN UNFINISHED DEV RELEASE.

Are you kidding me? Does your mom know this?

He had to do two clicks and mouse movement across the screen from left to right to actually shut down computer. Beyond stupid.

Actually 4 clicks.

techguy77 said,
He had to do two clicks and mouse movement across the screen from left to right to actually shut down computer. Beyond stupid.

Actually 4 clicks.


I hope your being sarcastic. Its not any diff on windows 7 .

techguy77 said,
He had to do two clicks and mouse movement across the screen from left to right to actually shut down computer. Beyond stupid.

Actually 4 clicks.


3 &1/2 minutes, and that is all you got out of it?

techguy77 said,
He had to do two clicks and mouse movement across the screen from left to right to actually shut down computer. Beyond stupid.

Actually 4 clicks.

Sorry we don't all want to turn off the PC as fast as possible

techguy77 said,
He had to do two clicks and mouse movement across the screen from left to right to actually shut down computer. Beyond stupid.

Actually 4 clicks.

Or one click... Press the power button.

fehu said,
off topic, but i feel that the shutdown is too much hidden too
there's a battle between simple and intuitive

It's not really hidden, If you logoff you see it there, if you go into settings it's there along with the volume and network "settings" which all makes sense to me. Also if you're on a laptop or tablet you'd just press the power button or close the lid and the OS will take care of the rest.

Having used Windows 8 - and having used PC since DOS - I have to agree that the shutdown button is hidden. It should be under "Settings"; it shouldn't then require you to move your mouse to the other side of the screen. It is also more difficult to get to a list of installed apps, as the Metro Start screen is only a subset.

There are also other issues. For instance, I haven't found any way to close Metro apps other than to use Task Manager. And the Control Panel is half-Metro and half-Explorer, which feels very inconsistent. It still has a long way to go but I just hope that the developers really listen to the issues being highlighted, as otherwise they're going to end up with a lot of confused users.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Having used Windows 8 - and having used PC since DOS - I have to agree that the shutdown button is hidden. It should be under "Settings"; it shouldn't then require you to move your mouse to the other side of the screen. It is also more difficult to get to a list of installed apps, as the Metro Start screen is only a subset.

There are also other issues. For instance, I haven't found any way to close Metro apps other than to use Task Manager. And the Control Panel is half-Metro and half-Explorer, which feels very inconsistent. It still has a long way to go but I just hope that the developers really listen to the issues being highlighted, as otherwise they're going to end up with a lot of confused users.

Well, post these issues on the appropriate beta tester forum in MSDN and they may address them...

Yes but in my case I had to go to Power Settings, and make pressing the power button to shutdown (it was on sleep as default) in order for that icon to appear in the setting screen.....so far is the only complain I have about Win8 Dev, way too many steps to shutdown your computer, which means that´s a pretty solid OS better than win7 and this is just the developer preview.....Vista really helped them to review everything before launching it.

Ohh I almost forgot the keyboard settings is very complicated too, I used to be able to set two keyboards and switch between them with Alt+Shift, now I have to do it manually by clicking the taskbar. Like I said minors problems that even if they don´t get solved the win8 is still a winner.

techguy77 said,
He had to do two clicks and mouse movement across the screen from left to right to actually shut down computer. Beyond stupid.

Actually 4 clicks.

I for one actually like it harder to shutdown. First just cause me along with most ppl i know shut their computer down MAYBE once a week? IF that even, so its hard for me to even understand why taking a few extra clicks matters in the first place. Second my dang cat magically walks on my mouse and keyboard during the night and shuts my computer down somehow! lol