Windows 8 To Go Workspace Creation Guide

Posted on November 24, 2012


The following guide will allow you to configure a USB device that is Windows 8 To Go ‘Ready’.

This guide is designed for users who are not yet running Windows 8, and whilst it can be followed if you are running Windows 8 IF you have Windows 8 Enterprise then a much simpler option is to use the ‘Windows To Go Creator Wizard’ (accessible from the Windows 8 Enterprise Control Panel or search) which automates:

  • USB Device provisioning process,
  • Windows 8 Instalment (you still need to have the Windows 8 Enterprise install media for this)
  • Bitlocker enablement options that can activate Bitlocker automatically during the Windows To Go creation process.

As you are creating a portable instance of your Windows 8 Operating System which is likely to contain private data we strongly recommend you activate the built in bitlocker drive encryption technology.

The process below does not allow you to enable Bitlocker during creation, it requires you to enabled bitlocker drive encryption AFTER creating your ‘Windows To Go Drive’ from within the Windows To Go workspace.

You can download a PDF version of this guide for ease of reference from here: Windows To Go Creation Guide (220 KB PDF)

This process requires Windows 8 Enterprise install media and does not work with other versions.

For a Windows To Go Feature Overview and more information please visit the Microsoft TechNet site.

Preparation Phase:

Step 1. Get the imagex.exe from the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK):

  1. Download the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows 7 (1.7GB)
  2. Download WinRAR, then uncompress the AIK ISO file that you downloaded, browse and extract the file.
  3. Uncompressed the with WinRAR, and extract the file name F1_imagex.
  4. Rename the file F1_imagex to imagex.exe.

Step 2. Get the install.wim Windows 8 Enterprise Install File:

  1. Download or get your copy of Windows 8 Enterprise
  2. If you have this is ISO format (if you downloaded from MSDN for example) use WinRAR to uncompress the Windows 8 Enterprise ISO file.
  3. Browse the uncompressed Windows 8 Enterprise files going to the \sources\ folder, extract the install.wim file that it should be in there.

Copy both the imagex.exe and the install.wim files to a separate directory.

USB To Go Creation Phase:

Step 1. Configure your USB drive:

  1. Open a Command Prompt (in Administrator Mode)
  2. Run the following Commands allow each to finish before proceeding to the next:
    2. LIST DISK (Note down the Disk number of your USB Device, ie: Disk 1 in my example below)

    3. SELECT DISK 1 (Replace 1 with the number of your USB Device from the step before)
    4. CLEAN
    7. ACTIVE
    8. FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK (Format process may take few seconds, longer if you opt to do a full format by leaving off the ‘QUICK’ option)
    9. ASSIGN
    10. EXIT

Step 2. Install Windows 8 Enterprise onto the USB:

  1. Open a Command Prompt (in Administrator Mode)
  2. Browse to the folder that has the Imagex.exe and now the install.wim
  3. Run the following command: imagex.exe /apply install.wim 1 D:\
    (Replace D with your USB drive letter)
  4. This write process will take a bit of time, progress is displayed.
  5. Once the write process has completed configure the boot record in the Windows To Go USB drive. Type the following command: bcdboot.exe D:\windows /s D: /f ALL
    (Replace D with your USB drive letter)


Now you should be able to boot to your external Windows 8 Enterprise USB To Go device and complete your installation. Some helpful hints on how to configure the traditional desktop Start Button etc available at Windows 8 Desktop Prioritisation Guide