In short, Microsoft's Windows To Go (WTG) feature allows you to install Windows operating system onto an external hard drive or a USB flash drive as a portable Windows, so you can carry the live Windows system to anywhere and use it on any computer.
Windows To Go is an enterprise feature of Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Windows 10 Education that enables the creation of a Windows To Go workspace that can be booted from a USB-connected external drive on PCs that meet the Windows 7 or later certification requirements, regardless of the operating system running on the PC. Windows To Go workspaces can use the same image enterprises use for their desktops and laptops and can be managed the same way. Windows To Go is not intended to replace desktops, laptops or supplant other mobility offerings. Rather, it provides support for efficient use of resources for alternative workplace scenarios.
Windows To Go workspace operates just like any other installation of Windows with a few exceptions. These exceptions are:
- Internal disks are offline. To ensure data isn’t accidentally disclosed, internal hard disks on the host computer are offline by default when booted into a Windows To Go workspace. Similarly if a Windows To Go drive is inserted into a running system, the Windows To Go drive will not be listed in Windows Explorer.
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM) isn’t used. When using BitLocker Drive Encryption a pre-operating system boot password will be used for security rather than the TPM since the TPM is tied to a specific computer and Windows To Go drives will move between computers.
- Hibernate is disabled by default. To ensure that the Windows To Go workspace is able to move between computers easily, hibernation is disabled by default. Hibernation can be re-enabled by using Group Policy settings.
- Windows Recovery Environment isn’t available. In the rare case that you need to recover your Windows To Go drive, you should re-image it with a fresh image of Windows.
- Refreshing or resetting a Windows To Go workspace is not supported. Resetting to the manufacturer’s standard for the computer doesn’t apply when running a Windows To Go workspace, so the feature was disabled.
- Getting apps from Windows Store. For Windows To Go images that are running Windows 8.1, there is no difference in Store behavior between a standard Windows installation and a Windows To Go installation. Store apps can roam between multiple PC’s on a Windows To Go drive.
For a Windows To Go image running Windows 8, the Windows Store is disabled by default. In Windows 8, apps licensed through the store are linked to hardware for licensing. Since Windows To Go is designed to roam to different host PCs access to the store is disabled when running Windows 8. You can enable the store if your Windows 8-based Windows To Go workspaces won’t be roaming to multiple PC hosts.
Windows To Go drives can be booted on multiple computers. When a Windows To Go workspace is first booted on a host computer it will detect all hardware on the computer and install any needed drivers. When the Windows To Go workspace is subsequently booted on that host computer it will be able to identify the host computer and load the correct set of drivers automatically.
The applications that you want to use from the Windows To Go workspace should be tested to make sure they also support roaming. Some applications bind to the computer hardware which will cause difficulties if the workspace is being used with multiple host computers.