We’ve talked about how Windows 8 Enterprise offers businesses the experiences people love, and the enterprise-grade solutions organizations need. Of all the new features and functionality in Windows 8 Enterprise, perhaps the most talked about is Windows To Go, which gives users new possibilities in mobile productivity.
A quick refresher: Windows To Go is a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 OS image provisioned on a certified bootable USB drive that allows employees to work from anywhere. To use Windows To Go, you simply insert the provisioned USB drive into a compatible PC and boot into your personalized Windows 8 image, all while maintaining access to key security and management features of the operating system, as well as other key programs included within the corporate image, such as: Group Policy, BitLocker, BranchCache, App-V, UE-V and DirectAccess. Further, unlike many other mobility solutions, Windows To Go users are able to have their personalized Windows environment on their certified USB with or without network connectivity, which means they may be fully productive from any location they choose to work.
So, what exactly is a certified bootable Windows To Go USB drive?
In order to provide a seamless mobile Windows 8 experience, Microsoft only supports certified Windows To Go drives. To become certified, a USB drive must pass a battery of certification tests, as well as undergo self-hosting across a variety of PCs to test-drive for high performance compatibility with Windows 8 and Windows To Go. Additionally, certified drives must:
- Be built for high random read/write speeds and support the thousands of random access I/O operations per second required for running normal Windows workloads smoothly.
- Have been tuned to ensure they boot and run on hardware certified for use with either Windows 7 or Windows 8.
- Be built to last. Certified drives are backed with manufacturer warranties and should continue operating under normal usage.
I am excited to announce that five vendors currently offer USB drives that meet or exceed the Windows To Go certification tests and requirements. Each of the manufacturers listed below have rigorously tested their products, and have worked with Microsoft to create high quality Windows To Go optimized drives. Combined, these vendors provide drives meeting a wide range of requirements, from small to large storage sizes (32GB to 500GB), a variety of form factors, and added security functionality.
- Imation is a global scalable storage and data security company whose portfolio includes tiered storage and security offerings for businesses and consumers. Imation offers the IronKey™ Workspace certified for Windows To Go, available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
- Kingston is a global provider of memory, solid-state drives, USB drives, and flash memory products. The Kingston Windows To Go certified drive, known as the DataTraveler Workspace, is available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions.
- SPYRUS, Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets hardware-based encryption, authentication, and digital content security products. SPYRUS offers two Windows To Go certified drives: the SPYRUS unencrypted Portable Workplace and the hardware encrypted Secure Portable Workplace, which is designed to be compliant with FIPS 140-2. Each drive is offered in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
- Super Talent designs and manufactures Flash-based storage solutions for Enterprise Servers, Workstations, Personal Computers and Consumer Electronics. Currently, Super Talent offers the RC8, in a variety of sizes, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.
- WD, a subsidiary of Western Digital Technologies, Inc., is a global storage industry leader, providing internal and external storage solutions for consumers and businesses. The WD My Passport Enterprise is a 500 GB external hard drive designed and certified specifically for use with Windows To Go.
As companies continue with their Windows 8 and Windows To Go evaluation processes, I urge them to learn more about each certified partner, the value they offer, and the unique feature sets each of them will bring to Windows 8 deployment.
If you are interested in evaluating Windows To Go, you simply need to buy a drive and download the Windows 8 Enterprise evaluation edition which provides up to a 90-day evaluation of Windows 8 Enterprise. Utilizing the Windows To Go Creator tool, available in the evaluation edition, you can create and test Windows To Go. (Note that Microsoft Partner Network, MSDN Subscription, TechNet Professional Subscription and Microsoft Volume Licensing/Software Assurance members may already have access to Windows 8, and do not need to download the 90-day evaluation.)
We couldn’t be more excited to bring new capabilities and features like Windows To Go to market with Windows 8. For more information, check out the Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows To Go website. For deployment guidance, up-to-date certified drive vendor details, hardware considerations, best practices, or technical information on Windows To Go, check out the TechNet library resources.