A couple of months ago, I opined about what will the PC might look like in five years, and offered a view of my son's possible Windows PC in 2016

"The icing on this hardware cake will be the additional power outside the box. Given he'll be connected to the most powerful servers on the planet anywhere and everywhere, the cloud will provide the real computing horsepower he needs to handle heavy computer lifting.

"So I'll stick with my wager: off hours, my son's primary technology consumption and communication device will be a phone... with his two PCs and cloud storage allowing him to express his creativity and manage his life. (What the phone will look like is anyone's guess, but I do like where we're going with the Windows Phone form factor – eventually I'll be able to replace the contents of my slim wallet with my phone, but I'm not sure we'll get there by 2016.)"

Today, I wanted to add to that list, primarily looked at from a consumer point of view, with a bent towards enterprises, given the announcements today on the Windows blog and live at CeBIT supporting an even smaller, more portable and affordable form factor: a USB drive.

usbstickMy friend Erwin Visser from the Windows org noted how enterprise customers will be able to leverage Windows To Go, which provides a Windows 8 desktop on an external USB drive…

"… that a user can boot from any PC available at work, at home, or just about any location, with or without connectivity. It’s like having your secure corporate PC in your pocket. And this means employees will be able to do things like travel light without sacrificing productivity, IT organizations can support the “Bring Your Own PC” trend, and businesses can give contingent staff access to the corporate environment without compromising security.

"Every time I talk with customers about Windows To Go, a new scenario comes up, like how it will be helpful in situations like working from home or vacation and disaster recovery, and we expect it will be highly valuable for certain industries like military or education. I’m excited to hear how Windows To Go will be used within your organization because I truly believe it will give businesses an array of new possibilities in mobile productivity."

Imagine besides having your phone, also having a secure corporate PC in your pocket, with the same security and management you have on your corporate Windows 7 PC today. At today's prices – roughly $1/GB – users will have affordable yet robust systems with a huge amount of storage space, further enabled with cloud connectivity, processing and storage, all on a small form factor that operates just about anywhere.

Ars Technica wrote about Windows To Go today with a step-by-step guide on creating your own Windows 8 “mobile” alternative…

"In theory, Windows to Go could give administrators a way of creating a verified, locked-down image of the Windows 8 OS that can be given to wandering users, temporary off-site contractors, or telecommuters to allow them to connect to the corporate network with confidence from their own (or someone else's) computer.

"So is this a potential solution for enterprises? Since this works with any USB-mountable storage, it's certainly one way to deal with the whole bring-your-own-device conundrum companies are now facing in various ways. It would allow employees and contractors to use the hardware of their choice (as long as it's up to the task). And by using administrative tools to do system policies and Active Directory lockdown, it's possible to prevent users from exfiltrating data to their own systems, or infect the corporate network with the viruses they've downloaded to their own systems."

Today I carry a couple of password protected USB drives (using as I noted here with Bitlocker To Go) with the files I need on the go. It won't be long until I have the entire computer experience in my pocket.

Tags: Windows, Windows 8, Windows 7, Microsoft.

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