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.
- Installed a VM for Windows 8 RP Update:(can also use Consumer Preview)
- Copied over the PWCreator.exe (64bit) and associated files (you will need to get this from the developer preview)
- Enabled the VM (VMPlayer) to see the USB drive
- 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.
- Ran the PWCreator.exe wizard, selected the drive and said ‘go’!
- Update: You may need to add a source location to point to the directory where you copied the install.wim file.
- 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!