[German version]Hey, it’s possible! Microsoft teased people a lot at BUILD 2011 with “Windows 8 To Go”. Build attendees received (beside the Samsung Tablet slate) also a 32 GB USB 3.0 Memory Stick, containing a copy of “Windows 8 To Go”. But what’s with the rest of us, not attending the BUILD 2011? The downloadable Windows 8 Developer Preview doesn’t has a Portable Workspace Creator, to build a “Windows 8 To Go” media. So I thought, it would be a good idea, to create my own “Windows 8 To Go” Developer Preview on a USB medium. After I digged a bit around, I was successful to boot a Windows 8 To Go-Developer Preview from a USB hard disk.
Poor man’s tale – need to do it yourself!
It’s a bit odd, I have no 32 GB USB 3.0 memory stick nor a slate pc – and my desktop computers doesn’t support USB 3.0. Also Windows 8 Developer Preview doesn’t comes with Portable Workspace Creator. But that won’t prevent me, to dig a bit around …
… somehow I gut an early Windows 8 Build 7989 in my fingers – and I still have had an 300 GB USB 2.0 hard disk. Well, the disk was formatted with 3 partitions – but there was no valuable data stores – so I could risk to use that disk for my experiments.
My first attempt, to copy all Portable Workspace Creator files from a former build to Build 8102 failed. The Portable Workspace Creator did not start (I haven’t played around registering the necessary DLLs).
Therefore I booted an installed Windows 8 Build 7989 in Virtualbox. I also mounted the 32 bit ISO file of Build 8102 (Windows 8 Developer Preview) as a CD drive in Virtualbox. And I mounted my USB hard disk (and also a 16 GB USB memory stick).
After that it was sufficient to open the folder Computer, navigate to folder System32 and double click the file pwcreator.exe.
Then Portable Workspace Creator wizard asked what to do.
I choosed Create a new Portable Workspace and the dialog box shown below listed all USB media found.
Portable Workspace Creator told me, that a 16 GB USB memory stick was to small for use with Portable Workspace Creator (32 GB and USB 3.0 is recommended). Luckily there was still the 300 GB USB hard disk. After selection, Portable Workspace Creator warned me, that the USB 2.0 is to slow for the operation. But I was able to click the Next button.
After 30-60 seconds, the next dialog box shows the mounted CD ISO image of Windows 8 Developer Preview (the Creator searches for Install.wim on all media).
I selected the build and clicked the Next button. The following dialog box warned me, that the hard disk will be reformatted – and all data will be lost. Also I was informed, that the operation would take a while. I clicked the Create Portable Workspace button, to launch the process …
Then Portable Workspace Creator began with its work. It took the time to brew the first cup of coffee and then another cup of coffee and then another coup of coffee – till I have had a “coffeine syndrome” …
… no, I just kidding – I don’t drink coffee. Instead I moved the progress window to the left corner of my desktop. Then I opened my browser and visited some forums, to answer several Windows questions. I also took the opportunity to view a movie …
Are we stalled? Yes, it stalls …
It took a long time and it seems that there was no real progress – the progress bar remains at 25%, Because I recognized VM activities on hard disk an on USB port of my VM, I opened notepad and moved its window edge to the right edge of the progress bar. After 5 minutes, I could clearly see, that the progress bar already has moved forward a bit.
After another ‘long while’ the progress bar was at least nearly 100%. I just thought “hurray, finished!”, but a dialog box informed me about an access problem in Portable Workspace Creator. I got the dialog box informing me, that the program no longer works – ups, it stalled. I terminated the dialog box and shut down the virtual machine. Then I tried to inspect the contend of my hard disk on my host operating system. But the disk wasn’t shown at all in Windows explorer …
That gave me a clue, why Microsoft has removed that feature from the public Developer Preview.
Then I used Computer Management and Disc management to inspect my disks. Disc management showed the drive, containing two NTFS partitions – one was 350 MB in size (marked as primary and active). The other volume’s size was set to the remaining hard disk’s capacity.
Assigning drive letters to both partitions enables me to inspect the volume content in Windows explorer. The active primary partition contained a boot loader bootmgr and hidden folders Boot, Recovery, System Volume Information (the latter two are not accessible). The 2nd primary partition contains the Windows folders shown below (both screenshots are obtained from my German Windows 7).
The properties shows me, that the Windows partition only contains 8 GB data. So overall, a 16 GB USB thumb drive should be sufficient to install Windows 8 To Go – don’t know, what Microsoft intend to store on the remaining disk space.
And … did it work?
The most important question was: Will my USB 2.0 disk with Windows 8 To Go work? I took my MSI Wind (a 10 Inch Netbook with 1 Gbyte RAM and Atom 1,6 GHz CPU). After connecting the USB hard disk, I pressed F11, selected USB boot and the medium – and voiá, that was the result.
I got a message, that Windows 8 Developer Preview boots. It took a minute, till Windows 8 was configured. Then I got the screen “keep the lawayer happy” … and after confirmation, I got the screen to configure my user account and set up my system. Here is Windows 8 To Go with start screen on my MSI Wind 100 …
… cool, isn’t it? Windows 8 To Go runs like a champ on my netbook (only in some cases, the system tries something to repair during boot process, after I used it on other hardware). So, it’s time, to start my Windows 8 investigation and dig a bit with Visual Studio 2011 and app development …
… and maybe I will found a sponsor to provide me with an Intel based Tablet slate – nevertheless, it seems that I will be able to blog a few additional Windows 8 articles – and I’ll start writing the first Win 8 books (but till now, only for my German readers).
1: Some findings about Windows To Go feature in Windows 8