One of the great additions Microsoft included in Windows 8 was the ability to create a supported Windows workspace on a approved bootable USB drive.  Further enablement was added to the Windows To Go offering this past October alongside the upgrade offering of Windows 8.1.  The Windows Store is now enabled by default allowing Windows To Go users to roam to any number of machines and access the Windows Store and use its apps.  With this additional functionality now enabled, it provides a great solution to not only business travelers looking to lighten their loads, but students too could take advantage of the Windows To Go offering allowing them to use almost any school / library computer at their disposal to continue their studies. 

We at CANITPRO.NET recently received a request through LinkedIn to detail the steps in creating a Windows To Go USB drive and as always we are happy to oblige.

Prerequisites

  1.  A recommended USB drive certified for Windows To Go use
  2. A host deployment of Windows 8.1 Enterprise
     

Step 1: Creating a Windows To Go Workspace

  1. Sign into the host Windows 8 Enterprise PC using an account with Administrative privileges
     
  2. Insert the designated USB drive to be used as a Windows To Go drive into the host PC
     
  3. Ensure the .wim file location (located on either a network share, USB drive, or DVD) is accessible and that it contains a valid Windows 8 Enterprise image that has been generalized using sysprep. 
     
    Note: Many environments use the same image for both Windows To Go and desktop deployments.
     
  4. Using the Search Charm (or Windows logo key+W), type Windows To Go in the search box and then press Enter
     
    Note: Should the User Account Control dialog box appear, confirm that the action it displays is correct, then click Yes.
     
  5. Find the Windows To Go Creator Wizard and click it to run the application
     
  6. When asked Choose the drive you want to use, select the drive that represents the designated USB drive, then click Next
     
  7. When asked to Choose a Windows 8 image, click Add Search Location and then navigate to the .wim file location and click select folder.  Choose the required Windows 8 Enterprise image and click Next
      

     
    Note:
    On the optional Set a BitLocker password page, selecting Use BitLocker with my Windows To Go Workspace to encrypt your Windows To Go USB drive will further secure the key. Type a password that conforms to your organizations password complexity twice as directed and click next.  Should encryption not be desired at this time, click Skip.  BitLocker protection can be added later and will be detailed in a future post.
     
  8. Click Create to start the creation of the Windows To Go workspace USB key
     
    Note: The creation process can take 20 to 30 minutes to complete. 
     
  9. From the completion page, configure the Windows To Go startup options to configure the current computer as a Windows To Go host computer
     
  10. Once completed click No (unless it is desired to boot from this key immediately) and then Save and Close
     

There are other ways to create a Windows To Go key, one of which uses System Center 2012 R2 for mass USB key creation which will be detailed on a later post. Learn other functionality made available in the Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals made available at the Microsoft Virtual Academy.