Windows to Go: Windows 8 Without the Commitment

Dennis Faas's picture

Getting Windows 7 users to make the switch to Windows 8 continues to be a difficult challenge for Microsoft, despite an aggressive marketing blitz.

Now the company is hoping to entice more prospective users to upgrade their computers to the new operating system by allowing them to escape worrying about any long-term commitments.

Windows to Go is a feature in Windows 8 Enterprise that allows the operating system to boot and run from mass storage devices like USB flash drives and external hard disk drives.

All that is needed to start computing with Windows 8 in this manner is to plug the pre-configured storage device into a Windows 7 computer and power it on. (Source:

Windows 7 Machines Are Left Untouched

One enticing aspect of Windows to Go is that it allows access to the full version of Windows 8 without first upgrading a computer.

All the files and settings previously existing on the machine remain untouched by Windows to Go, and will still be there when Windows 8 is no longer in control of the machine.

Besides this commitment-free aspect, there are many other advantages to running Windows to Go.

For example, it takes only about one minute to start up. However, it doesn't boast the same 8-second boot time that an installed version of the Windows 8 operating system normally does.

60 Second Lockdown Capability in Windows to Go

Another interesting feature in Windows to Go is its 60 Second Lockdown. This capability is designed for situations where an individual accidently pulls out the USB stick from which the system is running.

Should this occur, the display will freeze and the user will have 60 seconds to plug the external device back into the machine. If this happens, the user can continue right where he or she left off. (Source:

Windows to Go is also discreet: it leaves no footprint behind on the system. So if an individual uses a friend's computer, there are no accounts logged in or personal data accidentally saved onto the borrowed machine.

Once the computer is shut down, all traces of Windows to Go are destroyed. The computer starts up next time using its default operating system just as though Windows 8 had never been run on it.

The only downside to Windows to Go is that won't run on tablet computers based on ARM chipset architecture.

However, Microsoft has launched a separate edition of the Windows 8 operating system for these devices called Windows RT.

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