One of the most talked about new features of Windows 8 Enterprise during the Bett 2013 was 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 faculty and staff 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.

We are 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.

For more information, check out the videos below which offer a great overview of both the unique features of Windows To Go combined with how this can be used within an academic institution.