Windows to go is an important deployment option in windows 8.1 and above.  Windows to go assist to deploy the windows 8.1 enterprise to a specialy prepared usb storage device and then use this usb storage to start any compatible computer.

  when a windows to go device is started on a new computer, the boot process detects the computer hardware and installs appropriate drivers.

  when the same windows to go to start a same computer, then windows to go starts normally automatically by loading the appropriate drivers.  It stores the hardware configurations of multiple computers.

Windows to go restriction

Windows to go functions in a way that is very similar to a traditional windows 8.1 desktop deployments, but with the following restrictions:
  • ·         In the windows to go default setting sleep and hibernation is disabled.  The functionality can be enabled by configuring group policy but it can lead to data corruption.
  • ·         As a security measure, fixed internal discs on the hosts computer are offline to ensure that by using windows to go, third parties do not gain access to files on the host computer file system by booting computers.
  • ·         As windows to go device will be used across multiple computers bit locker uses a boot password rather than a tpm password.\
  • ·         In windows to go, windows recovery environment (re) and push button reset are disabled.
  • ·         Windows to go devices supports only windows 8.1 enterprise edition.
  • ·         Computer with an x86 or an x64 processor can use usb storage device prepared with an x86 version of windows to go.
  • ·         A computer having an x64 compatible processor can only use an computer prepared with an x64 version of windows to go.
  • ·         Windows to go doesnot support windows rt devices.
  • ·         In windows to go default setting, the windows store is disabled.
  • ·         The usb storage device with the windows to go deployment can be removed from the computer for up to 60 seconds.  The computer restarts, if the usb device is not reconnected at the time of deployment.

Windows to go requirements

Windows to go only works with microsoft certified usb storage devices and the operating system should recognize the usb device as  a fixed disk.  Create windows to go devices by using the windows to go wizard.  Systems running windows 8.1 enterprise eddition can only provides this wizard.  The computers connected to a usb 2.0 or usb 3.0 port can be stated with windows to go device.

Comparing windows to go and traditional windows 8.1 deployments

Windows to go and traditional deployments differ in several ways and both methods have their benefits and drawbacks. Some of the key differences as follows:
  • ·         Windows to go required the computer to boot from a usb device.  Enabling boot from usb poses a security risk  because it can allow access to a computers volumes if technologies such as bitlocker are not in use.  Organizations should be wary of allowing non administrative users to boot from usb devices.
  • ·         In a traditional deployment, bit locker can be configured to use tpm.  Windows to go doesn’t have this security and only allows bit lockers to use a passphrase.  The windows to go boot environment might be modified by malacious software.
  • ·         The windows store is disabled by default in windows to go. Changing this is possible by editing the allow store to install applications on the windows to go workspaces policy settings located in the computer configuration \administrative templates\windows components\store node of the group policy management editor.  In window 8.1 window store is enabled by default.
  • ·         Windows to go default setting disables sleep and hibernation and enabled on traditionally deployed windows 8.1 systems.  If windows to go device is left in running computer accidently the computer will not shut down.
  • ·         In a traditional installation, data is stored locally on hard disks.  In windows to go data is stored in usb device. Usb devices are more likely to fail which means the local data is more likelyu to be lost.  Users are also are more likely misplace a usb device than a portable computer.
  • ·         With a compatible hardware user  can access their applications and data.  Windows to go allows users to taske their applicationsand data.
  • ·         Windows to go assists information technology (it) departments that want to allow users to use their own devices, but also want to ensure that only securely managed operating system can interact with sensitive services on a network.

Booting from a native boot virtual hard disk

Virtual hard disk with for native boot assists in configuring windows 8.1 pro and enterprise editions which have a .vhd or .vhdx extensions.

  configure a computer to start from a single virtual hard disk or from different virtual hard disks.  In comparision to configuring traditional dual boot, booting from a virtual hard disk is beneficial because it does not require creating a new volume while deploying an additional operating systems.  Configuration is possible to boot between multiple virutal hard disk files stored on the same intensity.

Planning for virtual hard disk with native boot

Configuring a virtual hard disk with native boot includes the following process:
  • ·         Creating and performing a virtual hard disks,
  • ·         Installing or applying windows image,
  • ·         Adding the virtual hard disk native boot option to the startup menu and,
  • ·         Restarting the computer.

With disk management or diskpart.exe create a virutal hard disk deploy window images by using dism.exe and add the boot option by using bedboot.exe.
The main points to consider whenpolanning for virtual hard are volume size, deployment options and operating systems.


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