Monday, June 4, 2012

Windows 8 RC ‘To Go’. For real!?

So, as you all now know, there is a new Windows 8 release now available called ‘Release Preview’. I installed this on Friday night (1st June) and it is all running nicely. I also installed the ‘Release Candidate’ for Visual Studio 2012 ‘Ultimate’, however i will give my thoughts on that product another time.

On the surface, not a lot seems to have changed. Things are a little smother and snappier, there’s a few more items in the Windows Store and there’s a few breaking changes in the development API’s. Overall though, nothing standout. Unfortunately, the Windows ‘Personal Workspace Creator’ (pwcreator.exe) is still not there. 8(

PWCreator.exe is the wizard that will create a Windows 8 ‘To Go’ install on a compatible USB drive/stick.

I’ve been keen to try this functionality out, for real, for some time now. Unfortunately i just haven’t had the right hardware to do it. There are work arounds to this that approximate Windows 8 To Go features (see past posts), however i am not sure if this is really the same thing. Anyway, i now have some hardware that i think should really do it justice and I’m keen to try it out. The rest of this post is about how i got it working and my thoughts on the result.

Hardware requirements are pretty stringent, so i thought i would go all out. Recently I purchased a 250Gb SSD off Amazon, that i put in a nice 3rd party USB 3.0 external case, and thought this should be a good match. Here’s what I did.

  1. Installed a VM for Windows 8 RP Update:(can also use Consumer Preview)
  2. Copied over the PWCreator.exe (64bit) and associated files (you will need to get this from the developer preview)
  3. Enabled the VM (VMPlayer) to see the USB drive
  4. Update: Mount the ISO for Win8 Release Preview and copy the install.wim file from the sources directory to a location on your windows 8 vm.
  5. Ran the PWCreator.exe wizard, selected the drive and said ‘go’!
  6. Update: You may need to add a source location to point to the directory where you copied the install.wim file.
  7. Followed my nose to create and select partitions on the drive

Now, this is pretty much all that is needed, however it took a number of hours to complete. I think this is because of the size of my SSD?. Anyway, i came back this morning and it was all completed and i was able to attach the drive and boot up off it. Update: I ran this again, using the same USB drive, but on a different computer and it only took 45 minutes to complete. Perhaps my other PC was a lot slower or had an issue.

After booting up on this image and running through the initial Windows 8 setup, i now have a really nice Windows 8 ‘Release Preview’ image, which seems to all work fine. This includes a ‘bitlocked’ drive that cannot be accessed when i try to mount the drive from a different OS. I’m not sure if this is what a Windows 8 To Go image will look like, and won’t until Windows 8 ships, however it looks pretty darned close to it. Update: I disconnected the drive by accident whilst running and upon the next reboot i got a nice little warning message to be careful about doing that. The interesting thing is the warning message mentioned my ‘Windows 8 To Go’ setup!


1 comment:

  1. if you remove the drive Microsoft said you should have 60 seconds to reinsert it to resume normal usage.