September 2011 Paul McCollum
Microsoft has given a few more glimpses into their flash drive bootable OS option today, it’s called Windows To Go (for now). It’s not yet clear if this is one of the possible flavors of Windows 8 or if it will be a license transparent option for business users. Bootable Operating systems aren’t new and neither is a bootable Windows stick, but these will be legal and supported. This seems a very smart move to keep Microsoft positioned to as an option as virtual desktop and thin client systems continue to rise in popularity.
Many power users already run virtual laptops off of USB drives enabling them to work on a single consistent environment at both home and work without fussing with a laptop/briefcase. This should cement the concept and help keep MS moving towards more secure OS options comparable to VPMs. Microsoft envisioned IT admins creating a master copy of Windows to Go and then using a USB duplicator to mass produce the drives.
The other nice tangent that should bear fruit for the tech hungry consumer is the speed requirements of the drive for Windows To Go to be supported. As with ReadyBoost certification before, Windows To Go will make use of a simple speed test to ensure a good computing experience; in other words, certified flash drives should excel in random read/write with low latency. Super Talent Express RC-8 and Kingston DT HyperX 3.0 have been a recent front-runner drive performance but the rest of the market has stagnated a bit. Hopefully, this new and exciting flash drive option will get Corsair, OCZ and Patriot all racing again to eek just a few more MB/s out of a thumb drive. With the current offerings on the SSD market, it should be easy for them to get some hotter drives on the market. Unfortunately, these will probably not appear until around or after the Windows 8 launch.