Windows To Go: A Deployment Guide for Education

Applies To: Windows 8.1

This guide provides an overview of Windows To Go deployment for academic environments. It discusses the benefits, limitations, and processes involved in deploying Windows To Go.

Windows To Go is a feature of the Windows 8.1 Enterprise operating system that enables the operating system to run from a USB drive. Using Windows To Go in an education environment provides numerous benefits to faculty and students alike. It enables faculty and students to use a personalized copy of Windows 8.1 on virtually any PC, at almost any location. The ability to provide a standardized Windows experience that runs from virtually anywhere means that people can get their work done faster and more easily than before.

You can create Windows To Go workspaces and manage them by using the same tools you already use within your organization. You can create a Windows To Go workspace by using a wizard or Windows PowerShell, and you can manage Windows To Go workspaces through Group Policy. To learn about other ways you can deploy Windows 8.1 in your school, see Plan for Windows 8.1 Deployment: A Guide for Education.

Windows To Go benefits for education

Windows To Go creates a bootable Windows 8.1 image on a USB drive. This means that the standardized Windows image already used on institution-owned devices now becomes available with greatly increased portability and convenience. Users do not need to lug around a laptop or other device to have their Windows desktop available: That desktop is now available on a USB drive, and they can run it on any PC that is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1.

Windows To Go for IT

Windows To Go helps IT in several ways:

  • Portability. Windows To Go enables IT to offer the flexibility of free seating. Faculty and students can use their own Windows desktop from almost any PC in the school.

  • Cost savings. IT does not need to deploy individual computers but rather can deploy the Windows To Go workspace on USB drives to provide a consistent, personalized Windows 8.1 experience. It is easy to setup and configure, and distribution is simple.

  • Management. Today’s IT infrastructure uses Group Policy and technologies like BitLocker Drive Encryption, Microsoft BranchCache, Application Virtualization, DirectAccess, and other advanced technologies to ensure highly reliable and secure services to users. Windows To Go supports all of those technologies and more. You do not need to change your IT processes and management tools to add Windows To Go to your IT infrastructure.

Windows To Go for faculty

Windows To Go gives faculty a consistent Windows 8.1 experience from almost anywhere. Is seating available in a computer lab? Need to move to another classroom? The educator’s personal Windows 8.1 desktop is available at all of these locations by booting into the Windows To Go workspace.

Faculty members use numerous tools to provide the best learning experience for the classroom, such as Microsoft Office and the specialized Learning Management System (LMS). At the same time, computers with that specialized software are typically shared among two or more educators, making it difficult to find a time to get classroom-related administrative work done.

With a Windows To Go workspace, sharing a computer becomes a thing of the past. With Windows To Go, any compatible computer, regardless of the operating system installed on it, can be used. This means that faculty members can use a Windows To Go workspace at work, from home, or from an off-campus location, providing the same experience regardless of location. Faculty are no longer tethered to a specific computer, room, or building.

Windows To Go for students

Like faculty, students can benefit from the Windows To Go experience. Students can use a Windows To Go workspace to boot into their own Windows workspace from home or from a free seat in school. They can have the same personal Windows 8.1 experience in each classroom.

Students can also use Windows To Go workspaces to get their homework done and perform research-related tasks by using specialized software without needing to install that software on their own device. All they need is a compatible computer and USB drive, and the workspace is up and running.

You can customize Windows To Go workspaces for particular curriculums, grade levels, and so on, then distribute them to students. Doing so helps to facilitate the learning experience while minimizing the time invested in configuring the technology.

Windows To Go workspaces have low replacement cost. If a student loses the USB drive with the workspace on it or if the drive becomes damaged, it can be replaced at a much lower cost than a PC.

Talking about Windows To Go

Communicate with students and faculty when introducing Windows To Go. Windows To Go requires users to change their workflows, and they should be aware of limitations and changes necessary to make their use of Windows To Go successful. One idea would be to provide this information in a wiki or through a handout, as appropriate. In particular, educate users to:

  • Ensure that the host computer is not in a sleep state when inserting the Windows To Go drive

  • Ensure that the host computer has been fully shutdown before inserting the Windows To Go drive

  • Insert the Windows To Go drive directly into the computer, not into a USB hub

  • Always shut down Windows and wait for the shutdown process to finish fully before removing the Windows To Go drive

Also consider how Windows To Go will be supported. If training is necessary for help desk staff, plan for that training in advance of the deployment.

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Additional resources:

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