Why Not Surface-To-Go?

Why not sell a Microsoft branded consumer bootable USB versions of Windows 8.1?

Windows To Go is an implementation of Windows 8/Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition that allows you to boot and run the OS off a special USB stick. You can install both desktop and metro apps and use it as a normal computer. When I’m training, I use it to boot the instructor computer out of the OS that has been deployed by the training company.

Every time I demo the technology, members of my audience are impressed. Windows To Go is a great way of running Windows. It’s also a great way of showing people how Windows 8.1 might run on their hardware without having to actually install it. It works best with a USB 3.0 slot, but even when I’m booting using a USB 2 connection, I still get great performance out of the device.

One of the only difficulties I have with Windows To Go is the general unavailability of compatible USB drives. I use one that I was given for demo purposes through Microsoft’s STEP program. Even though the technology has been around for more than a year, the number of USB sticks that support the technology is vanishingly small, the cost of the sticks is still unreasonably high compared to other USB sticks of larger capacity, and they are bloody hard to find. I certainly can’t go down to the local office supply store and get a stick (though that may just be an Australian thing, I’m certainly able to source other high capacity USB 3.0 drives at my local office supply store).

Given how fantastic Windows To Go is, what I’m wondering is why Microsoft isn’t selling a Microsoft branded version, say “Surface-To-Go” which includes a bootable copy of Windows 8.1 (perhaps even with an included 12 month Office 365 subscription) out of their online store.

Windows To Go is a fantastic bit of technology – it allows people to run Windows 8.1 quickly. I suspect one of the reasons we aren’t seeing more Windows To Go out in the wild is because people don’t know about it and the USB sticks that support it are as rare as hen’s teeth. “Surface-To-Go”, backed by an MS campaign and with a nicely designed VaporMG USB stick is another way Microsoft can push Windows 8.1. It allows people to run Windows 8.1 without upgrading their PC, but also allows them to have the same environment wherever they go and have access to a computer.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Nov 12, 2013

My question is, can I boot a Surface 2 using a Windows to Go build to have a poor man's Surface Pro 2?

on Nov 13, 2013

No. Problem is the processor architecture. Windows 2 Go is x86/x64 (depending on how you do it). Surface/Surface 2 are ARM.

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Orin Thomas is a contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and a Windows Security MVP. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books for Microsoft Press, founded the Melbourne System Center,...
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