[Tutorial]Windows 8 to Go without Enterprise Edition


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ingramator

Windows_To_Go_USB_Drive.png

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:

  1. Locate your Windows 8 disc or ISO and mount it
  2. Navigate to \sources and copy the install.wim file to your desktop or other convenient location
  3. Insert your USB or HDD and format the partition as NTFS with the default allocation
  4. Download the free GImageX (http://www.softpedia...s/GImageX.shtml) and extract it
  5. Run the x86 or x64 version depending on the version of Windows you are using
  6. Navigate to the "Apply" tab
  7. In the source section enter or browse for the location of the install.wim we copied earlier
  8. In the destination section enter or browse for the location of the device you want to use for Windows to Go
  9. Leave the checkboxes unchecked and hit apply
  10. After imaging process is complete navigate to Disk Management (type in partition at search and you will find it)
  11. 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
  12. Navigate to your Windows to Go disk and go to \Windows\System32
  13. Open up CMD from this location (or change directory to the above folder) and enter
    bcdboot.exe X:\Windows /s X: /f ALL[/CODE]

    where "X" is your Windows To Go drive letter

  14. 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!

[b]Tips:[/b]

  • 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!

post-449715-0-57758000-1359778374.png

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remixedcat

Does this work on Server 2012??

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vcfan

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

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ingramator

Does this work on Server 2012??

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

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remixedcat

Awesome! Thank you!

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George P

Sweet, this will be helpful.

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MS Bob 10

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?

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ingramator

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.

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  • 2 weeks later...
ingramator

Confirmed working with Server 2012 Datacentre!

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Gnieus

This is rather cool! Cheers for the tutorial.

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  • 3 weeks later...
ingramator

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!

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astroXP

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?

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ingramator

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!

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The_Observer

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

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astroXP

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

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remixedcat

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

portable server install for security and rapid deployment.

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xendrome

portable server install for security and rapid deployment.

That makes no sense what so ever. A server is typically a static entity on a network, you just threw out a bunch of generic terms with no real explanation or real world usage scenario.

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remixedcat

Boot from USB>have instant server that's pre-configured. No need to install. How hard is that to understand?

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xbamaris

Boot from USB>have instant server that's pre-configured. No need to install. How hard is that to understand?

Because if you want to do it right you should take the time and create an image of a pre-configured server.... You're just asking for trouble for doing W2G on a Server

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remixedcat

What's so bad about having a portable server install? Nothing. Everyone has different specifications for thier uses. No need to bash anyone elses's specifications.

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  • 2 weeks later...
DJGM

Less then 30 minutes depending on your hardware, really? So, why does GImageX say it's going to take nearly 248 minutes

to complete? This is on a Core i3 based laptop with 4GB RAM installed. Less than 30 minutes is a nonsense, unless you do

this on a very high spec system with at least 10 quad core CPU's and over 32GB of enterprise grade RAM installed!

GImageX--247-mins-to-go--WTF.png

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Eric

Less then 30 minutes depending on your hardware, really? So, why does GImageX say it's going to take nearly 248 minutes

to complete? This is on a Core i3 based laptop with 4GB RAM installed. Less than 30 minutes is a nonsense, unless you do

this on a very high spec system with at least 10 quad core CPU's and over 32GB of enterprise grade RAM installed!

GImageX--247-mins-to-go--WTF.png

You're putting temporary files on the installation target. Maybe that's why?

EDIT: The tutorial doesn't mention setting the temp location, I guess.

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n_K

Either you've got a slow USB host device or USB port (1.0 or 1.1).

As said you should NOT be using the USB drive as the image creation medium, it'll constantly being doing small writes which WILL degrade the USB much quicker.

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  • 1 month later...
Smiler Martin Hudgeon

Excellent tutorial!

One question though, and this might seem na?ve, but how does activation function here? Typically speaking, if I was to take a hard drive out of one PC and put it in another one it probably would work, but windows would notice the different hardware and prompt for re-activation (Same as modern versions of office). I am curious how this would work as I have read the article thoroughly and can't seem to find any reference to circumvent this.

Thanks in advance, and sorry if I missed something.

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Eric

Excellent tutorial!

One question though, and this might seem na?ve, but how does activation function here? Typically speaking, if I was to take a hard drive out of one PC and put it in another one it probably would work, but windows would notice the different hardware and prompt for re-activation (Same as modern versions of office). I am curious how this would work as I have read the article thoroughly and can't seem to find any reference to circumvent this.

Thanks in advance, and sorry if I missed something.

I believe you'd have to have a separate license for it that way. Windows To Go is an enterprise Windows feature and the license for it should be included in your volume license agreement.

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