Feature Articles

Windows To Go - All You Need to Know About It

By Vijay Anand - 2 Jul 2012

Enabling the Next Stage to a More Mobile Workforce?

Enabling the Next Stage to a More Mobile Workforce?

Ever since the developer preview edition of Windows 8 became available late last year, one of the key highlights of the upcoming OS was the ability to create a bootable USB thumb drive with Windows 8 and be able to run the OS off the thumb drive. What’s more, unlike the quirky workarounds required to create an equivalent for Windows 7 and then needing to cross fingers if it would work properly, Windows 8 on the move is quite adaptable to various systems and will come with a proper tool (on the Windows 8 Enterprise edition) to crank out a portable Windows 8 drive.

This is the new Windows To Go feature and we caught a neat overview of it, including a surprising resume capability when the drive was dislodged from the port - all this and more while we attended Microsoft’s TechEd Europe 2012 over at Amsterdam. So check out this video if you haven’t yet caught it:-


Windows To Go - The Usage Proposition

Now before we get into further details, we share with you more on why this option came about. It’s more than just making a convenient, portable and bootable Windows device.

The key goal for Windows to Go (WTG) is to create a mobile work space within an organization (access corporate workspace, execute applications and store/retrieve documents), without requiring a fixed computing asset tied to each employee.

Given the right provisions, it allows enterprises to provide a full corporate work environment that is completely separate from the host machine and is a non virtualized environment - all this bootable off a USB drive. Throw in enterprise management tools to govern group domain policies like Active Directory or Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and you’ll be able to log into your corporate network from almost any location or system. Not much information was made available if this solution can work outside of a Microsoft back-end administration at this point of time.

Traditionally, you would have to rely on a virtualized solution that would require the host PC to have the right configuration and software. Furthermore, supporting such an infrastructure is either expensive for the company or too troublesome to manage for end-users. Not to mention, the bandwidth required to have a reasonable experience.

With WTG, you get a fully usable system-on-disk kind of solution - minus the hardware needed to run the operating system. Here are some scenarios where WTG would be of high value:-

  • You’re on leave for the day and left your company laptop at office, but it just so happens that you need to forward an important document to your client that’s saved on your corporate LAN. Assuming you have WTG issued by your company, you could use any system at home to boot up, log in to your corporate network and the problem is resolved. This wouldn’t require your home systems to have any prior setup or software. In fact, they are untouched at the OS level, other than using your hardware as the host.
  • With the bring your own device (BYOD) momentum getting ever more pronounced, WTG allows you to use your notebook of choice while not messing anything up; so that when your work is done, you can then boot into your usual desktop, complete with games and what-not.
  • For company operations that often deal with contract or temporary staff, all that’s needed are spare systems and company issued WTG system on a disk. If properly commissioned with BitLocker, should the drive go missing, there’s no cause for concern because it would be useless without the right key.
  • Some organizations are spread across several office locations and a seat-less solution would be more convenient for staff members that frequently have to travel. This would again take advantage of company issued WTG USB based sticks and a readily available pool of systems.
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