Windows 8 to Run on Portable USB Drive: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Credible reports suggest Microsoft users will be able to carry a copy of Windows 8 in their pocket. It also appears personal settings can be synchronized to the web to allow remote access when on the move.

The details come through leaked screenshots of what's formally known as Build 7850, but commonly referred to as Milestone 1: the first full-fledged developmental edition of Windows 8.

Windows 8 Build 7850 was released to developers late last year but details have only just leaked. Of course, Microsoft is keeping quiet about whether the leaks are genuine, so there's no cast-iron guarantee the details are accurate, or that they'll appear in the finished version.

Still, if the rumors are true, it will be possible for users to put a special edition of the system onto a USB stick so that they can boot up on any computer, possibly with their personal settings already in place.

16GB USB Drive Required For Windows 8 Portable Edition

A similar feature has long been available for open-source Linux operating systems, but this would be a Windows first.

The screenshots suggest that even this specially slimmed down version would require a minimum 16GB drive. That almost certainly means the PC the drive was inserted into would still need relatively modern hardware specifications. (Source:

There's also a big question about licensing: the most likely situations would be either that such versions would connect to the Internet for verification -- meaning that the portable version couldn't run on two machines simultaneously.

Another possibility is that there would be a limit on how many times a user could create a portable version, with it being done in a way that stopped the drive from being cloned.

Windows 8 Cloud Synchronization

Another reported feature is something called cloud synchronization.

Users could set their PCs to make all their files and folders available for online access, meaning that they could access them from any computer using a Windows Live account, or even access them on a smartphone. (Source:

The Downside to Cloud Operating Systems

Putting Windows 8 solely within cloud computing raises several questions. Any feature making desktop files available for remote access is going to require extremely tight security, and the sheer number of Windows users will make this an obvious target for hackers.

It also remains to be seen if the service will require the main PC to be on at all times, or if the files will be copied to Microsoft servers, which could prove an expensive proposition for the company.

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