Published on July 22nd, 2012 | by Fluffy9
Windows To Go – Creating a Portable USB with Windows 8 Running on it!
This is my first post, so try and be nice in the comments, please? Anyway – to start off, I’ve typed out (and taken personal screen-shots) of all the steps that you should follow to create a Windows to Go USB! This is a guide for the Windows 8 Release Preview, obviously, since that’s the latest version out so far. Such USBs will be available officially (around October), but for those who can’t wait, here it is!
Okay, so a “Windows to Go” USB is a Live USB stick with Windows 8 loaded on it. There are multiple walkthroughs online telling you how to make it, but in my experience, each one is either incomplete or doesn’t work, so here’s what worked for me.
Please read the entire document first before doing anything. Pay particular attention to the “Notes” section in the end. Note that when you’re finally doing it, reading just what’s in red should suffice, but if you’re unsure as to what a particular point means, or where a particular option is, then go ahead and read the entire point. I hope this works for you folks!
- USB 2.0 (3.0 is preferred) 8 GB Pen Drive (16 at least if you want apps).
- Windows 8 Release Preview (32-bit if you want apps), from here.
- gimagex.exe -> which can be downloaded here.
- Windows Vista or Windows 7 (for diskpart).
- Cfadisk (to update your pen drive’s drivers) -> which can be downloaded here.
- Using software like WinRAR, open up the .iso file that you downloaded, and look for a file called “install.wim”, in the “sources” folder, and place it somewhere accessible, say your desktop.
- Plug in your USB stick and launch Comand Prompt (cmd.exe) from the start menu, by highlighting it and pressing ctrl+shift+enter, launching it in administrator mode.
- Start typing in the following codes in the exact order:
c. select disk _
(Put the number of your USB stick here)
e. create partition primary
f. format fs=ntfs quick
- This makes your USB stick ready for applying the image of the “install.wim” file.
- Launch “gimagex.exe” by selecting the version corresponding to the host operating system (the one you’re working in, not the one you’re about to install). x86 for 32-bit and x64 for 64-bit. Once open, click on the apply tab, and browse for your “install.wim” file in the Source field, and your pen drive in the Destination field. Leave everything else the same and click “Apply”.
- Now open up command prompt in administrator mode again and type in “bcdboot x:\windows s/ x:” (without quotes, obviously, replacing x with the drive letter assigned to your USB stick).
- Once this is done, you may stop here if you have an 8GB Pen drive (since the steps that follow are only to install apps). Restart your PC, boot from USB and load up Windows 8.
- You will see that your USB stick appears as a “Removable Disk” in Windows 8. To install apps, you have to ensure that Windows 8 is running from a “Fixed Disk”. The following steps allow you to do that.
- Right-click and select “Personalize”. In the left pane, select “Change Desktop Icons” and check the box corresponding to “Computer”. We’re done here.
- On the desktop, open up Computer, expand the ribbon on top, and click “Manage”. A window will open up. Look in the left pane for the “Device Manager” tab. Select it.
- Now in the main screen, under the category “Disk Drives”, look for your USB Stick, right click on it and select “Update Driver Software…”
- The “Update Driver Software” Wizard will open up. In it, select “Browse my computer for driver software”, then “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”, then select “Have Disk…” and browse for the file “cfadisk” that you downloaded earlier.
- Warnings might pop up stating that the drivers are unsigned, but not to worry since the drivers will only installed into your copy of Windows 8, not harming your USB Stick.
- Once this is done, your PC will request a reboot. Instead, shut it down and unplug your USB stick. Due to the driver update, your USB stick is no longer and will have to be made bootable again. To do this, boot up your local OS and once fully loaded, plug in your USB stick again.
- Go to “Computer” and look at your USB stick. You will notice that your USB stick is still a “Removable Disk”. Don’t worry about that. Instead, open up your USB disk drive.
- Press “Alt”, click on “Tools”, and then “Folder Options…” In the window that opens up, click on “View”, and then look in the list for “Hide Protected Operating System Files” and uncheck the box corresponding to it. (It’s been highlighted in the picture below). A warning will pop up, click on “Yes” and then “OK” in the “Folder Options” window that you opened. You will now see a whole bunch of files that you couldn’t see before.
- Open the folder called “Boot” and scroll down to a list of files called “BCD” (BCD, BCD.txt, BCD.LOG1 and BCD.LOG2). Delete the 4 BCD files you see.
- Now, for the last time, open up Command Prompt in Administrator Mode and type in “bcdboot x:\windows s/ x:” (without quotes, obviously, replacing x with the drive letter assigned to your USB stick).
- Your boot files have now been created again and on restarting, you’ll have a fully functional Windows 8 running on your PC with all your files intact.
- When you’re back in your local OS, you’ll want to press “alt” again, click on “tools”, “folder options…”, “view” and finally check the “Hide Protected Operating System Files” box again.
- Use this key to activate Windows: MF28Y-VNHFV-KX7GW-PDT98-BWK2F. You might want to write this down somewhere.
- The first time you start Windows 8, you’ll want to have your internet on.
- On hovering your mouse to the left top and bottom corners of your screen, you get the app tray. Similarly, on the right top and bottom corners, you get the charm bar.
- Pressing the windows key and typing works just as it did in Windows Vista and Windows 7, only with better looks.
- Enjoy your OS, give feedback wherever you can, and buy a mouse to make navigation easier.
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