Part of the Wireless and mobile glossary:

Windows To Go is a feature of the Windows 8 Enterprise operating system that allows it to be copied to a USB device, such as a flash drive or a portable hard drive. Users can boot and run a full implementation of the OS from the device.

Windows To Go allows mobile users to plug the USB drive into a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port on another computing device and use Windows 8 as if it was the device’s native operating system. However, the initial release is only supported on USB 3.0-compatible Intel-based PCs, which means that it doesn't work with the Surface tablet, iPads or Android devices.

Users can change configuration settings and save data to the device or to a network drive or cloud storage service, such as Microsoft’s SkyDrive. To prevent data leakage, the Windows To Go workspace remains isolated from the host device’s operating system.

Benefits of Windows To Go include providing mobile users with the familiar corporate desktop from anywhere and facilitating cloud DR. However, some critics argue that the small size of the devices makes them vulnerable to loss or theft, which could put corporate data at risk.

Microsoft has certified USB drives from a number of manufacturers, including Imation, Kingston and Western Digital, who will ship devices with the OS installed. The OS image can also be copied to a USB device through a Windows 8 OS feature.

Operating systems on USB drives are sometimes referred to as live USBs.

See a brief Windows To Go demo:

This was last updated in October 2012
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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