How to create a Windows To Go workspace in Windows 8 Enterprise (step-by-step)

Windows To Go workspace logo

Windows To Go allows you to install a full flesh copy of Windows 8 on a USB drive and have a fully Windows workspace wherever you go. This new Microsoft functionality is best suited for people who work from their homes or spend the majority of their time traveling and they need a trusted PC. Just insert the USB drive in a new PC, reboot and you will then be able to access a fresh trusted PC with all the apps and files to save the day.

Previously I showed you how to create a Windows To Go from a Windows 7 PC that was quite a process, but now if you are running Windows 8 Enterprise or the 90-day trial version of the operating system the steps has been reduced and best of all, there aren’t any command lines to type, all is done with a simple graphical UI wizard. 

In this article you’ll learn the steps to follow and successfully create a “Windows To Go” USB drive:

Instructions

Before we dive into the process there are a few things you should now: You’ll need a USB drive or external hard drive of at least 32GB or larger. A USB 2.0 will work fine but a 3.0 will work best; you’ll also need a Windows 8 ISO image or the DVD installation media, and keep in mind that all the data on the drive you use will be erased with the process.

1. Have ready the DVD installation media or download the trial version of Windows 8 image ISO.

2. Using a file management software like PeaZip, open the ISO file, navigate into the support folder and extract the install.wim to an empty folder — The .wim file is the Windows image file and contains the OS, apps, and file for a new installation.

Extract Install.wim image

3. Go to the Control Panel — You can either move the mouse to the lower-left corner of the screen, right-click and choose the option or do a search in the Start screen.

4. Do a search and click on Windows To Go.

To Go Control Panel option

5. The “Create a Windows To Go workspace” window appears. Now connect the USB drive if you didn’t already do so, select it from the device list and click Next.

Windows To Go wizard - Choose drive

6. Click the Add search location, browse the folder that contains the install.wim file and then click Next.

Select Windows 8 image

7. Choose whether or not you want to use the BitLocker feature to encrypt the drive — for this tutorial just click Skip.

Windows To Go BitLocker option

8. Click Create. Do not remove the USB drive during the process.

Create To Go drive

9. Now the “Create a Windows To Go workspace” wizard will takeover and finish the process.

In progress creating workspace

10. Finally, if everything has been completed successfully, you’ll be given 2 options to test the new USB drive with Windows 8 on it. If you want to finish the process, simply leave the No option and click the Save and close button. 

Reboot option Win To Go

Tip: If you don’t want this feature anymore in the USB drive, you can delete the Windows To Go by simply formatting the drive with the Windows Format tool.

You have now successfully created your own portable version of Windows 8. Make sure that your computer has been configured to boot from the a USB drive. Also the first time you start a PC with  Windows To Go drive, it will take a little bit of time, because this is the first time booting from that particular machine and Windows needs to configure all the device drivers and the new environment, but after that it will boot faster; if you are asked to enter the product key, just click Skip.