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April 11, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:16am

7 things you need to know about Windows to Go

Use your Windows workspace anywhere.

By Jimmy Nicholls

You may have heard about a version of Windows that can be started from a USB stick. Here, we’ll take you through all you need to know about Windows to Go.

1) It’s bootable Windows

Windows 8.1 Enterprise users can create a USB drive, which you can use to access the OS while away from your desk, using the Windows to Go Creator Wizard or a command line. There’s no limit on the number of drives an IT manager can make.

2) It’ll run on anything that can take Windows 7 and has a USB port

Microsoft says it will run on most systems that can handle Windows 7 or 8, though you don’t need either of them installed on the host PC. Microsoft recommends you use an approved USB drive, preferably plugged into an integrated USB 3.0 port, which are usually blue and marked with the letters SS (for SuperSpeed).

3) All your work files, settings and apps will be there

Creating the drives copies a "Workspace" over to the USB, allowing users access to all the information they need. IT managers can even set up access to company intranets through programmes such as DirectAccess.

4) The end user only needs a little bit of technical knowledge

Even the most ardent technophobe can tweak the boot sequence in the BIOS (usually by hitting delete before your home copy of Windows launches), but on Windows 8 you can use the Windows to Go Startup Options too. Once it is set up all you need to do is plug in the drive and restart the computer.

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5) It’s almost exactly the same as other Windows versions

For security reasons, Windows to Go users can’t access internal disks, and the bootable USB cannot be seen from a native version of Windows. Those using Windows 8 Workspaces on a number of host PCs will not be able to access the Windows Store either. Aside from a few other technical differences, that’s it.

Windows to Go is almost identical to native versions of Windows

6) If you lose the drive you are still protected

When creating the drives, users can use BitLocker to create a password for the device. Without the password, the device is useless, so anybody who picks it up will not be able to use it to see sensitive information.

7) IT managers still have control

Any user management system that runs on Windows 8 will also work on Windows to Go, including Microsoft’s Group Policy and System Center 2012.


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