How-To : Create your own bootable Windows 8 USB Disk

There are several methods in which way you can install Windows 8:

  • Install Windows 8 from a DVD to your hard disk / SSD
  • Install Windows 8 from an USB-stick to your hard disk / SSD
  • Or you can both sources to install Windows 8 inside of an VHD image

The above three methods were also available with Windows 7. With the arrival of the first Windows 8 version, you can also install Windows 8 on an USB-stick (or USB-disk). You can create your own portable Windows 8 installation, which you can use to run Windows 8 on the Go. In this blog post I’ll walk you through the installation procedure.

There are several methods in which way you can install Windows 8:

  • Install Windows 8 from a DVD to your hard disk / SSD
  • Install Windows 8 from an USB-stick to your hard disk / SSD
  • Or you can both sources to install Windows 8 inside of an VHD image

The above three methods were also available with Windows 7. With the arrival of the first Windows 8 version, you can also install Windows 8 on an USB-stick (or USB-disk). You can create your own portable Windows 8 installation, which you can use to run Windows 8 on the Go. In this blog post I’ll walk you through the installation procedure.

To create your own Windows To Go installation you’ll need the following:

  • a USB-stick / USB-disk of at least 16 GB (Preferable USB 3.0)
  • a Windows 8 host system to create the installation
  • the Windows 8 ‘install.wim’ (which you can find in the Sources folder of the installation disk)

If you have all the prerequisites, just follow the next steps to create the disk.

Prepare your hard disk

  1. Start an elevated cmd
  2. Start ‘ Diskpart
  3. DISKPART> list disk
  4. DISKPART> select disk # (where # is the number of the USB disk where Windows 8 should be installed)
  5. DISKPART> clean
  6. DISKPART> create partition primary size=300
  7. DISKPART> format fs=fat32 quick label=W2G-System
  8. DISKPART> assign letter=X
  9. DISKPART> create partition primary
  10. DISKPART> format fs=ntfs quick label=W2G-Windows
  11. DISKPART> assign letter=Y
  12. DISKPART> attribute volume set NODEFAULTDRIVELETTER
  13. DISKPART> exit

Apply the image to the ‘W2G-Windows’  partition

  1. dism /apply-image /imagefile:G:sourcesinstall.wim /index:1 /applydir:Y:
    image

Prepare the system partition (W2G-System)

  1. Y:WindowsSystem32>bcdboot Y:Windows /f ALL /s X:
    image

Apply SAN Policy 4

  1. Copy the following code in a text file named san_policy.xml:
    1. When using an X86 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”offlineServicing”>
      < component xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance” language=”neutral” name=”Microsoft-Windows-PartitionManager” processorArchitecture=”x86″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ versionScope=”nonSxS” >
      < SanPolicy>4
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
    2. When using an X64 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”offlineServicing”>
      < component xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance” language=”neutral” name=”Microsoft-Windows-PartitionManager” processorArchitecture=”amd64″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ versionScope=”nonSxS” >
      < SanPolicy>4
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
  2. Place the san_policy.xml in the root folder of the Windows partition (Y: in this example) and run the following command:
    dism /image:Y: /Apply-Unattend:Y:san_policy.xml
    image

Disable WinRE

  1. Copy the following code in a text file named unattend.xml:
    1. When using an X86 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”oobeSystem”>
      < component name=”Microsoft-Windows-WinRE-RecoveryAgent” processorArchitecture=”x86″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ language=”neutral” versionScope=”nonSxS” xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance”>
      < UninstallWindowsRE>true
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
    2. When using an X64 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”oobeSystem”>
      < component name=”Microsoft-Windows-WinRE-RecoveryAgent” processorArchitecture=”amd64″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ language=”neutral” versionScope=”nonSxS” xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance”>
      < UninstallWindowsRE>true
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
  2. Place the unattend.xml in the Y:WindowsSystem32Sysprep folder.

That’s all…now just boot your favorite PC to Windows 8 (change the boot order so USB is booted first).

To create your own Windows To Go installation you’ll need the following:

  • a USB-stick / USB-disk of at least 16 GB (Preferable USB 3.0)
  • a Windows 8 host system to create the installation
  • the Windows 8 ‘install.wim’ (which you can find in the Sources folder of the installation disk)

If you have all the prerequisites, just follow the next steps to create the disk.

Prepare your hard disk

  1. Start an elevated cmd
  2. Start ‘ Diskpart
  3. DISKPART> list disk
  4. DISKPART> select disk # (where # is the number of the USB disk where Windows 8 should be installed)
  5. DISKPART> clean
  6. DISKPART> create partition primary size=300
  7. DISKPART> format fs=fat32 quick label=W2G-System
  8. DISKPART> assign letter=X
  9. DISKPART> create partition primary
  10. DISKPART> format fs=ntfs quick label=W2G-Windows
  11. DISKPART> assign letter=Y
  12. DISKPART> attribute volume set NODEFAULTDRIVELETTER
  13. DISKPART> exit

Apply the image to the ‘W2G-Windows’  partition

  1. dism /apply-image /imagefile:G:sourcesinstall.wim /index:1 /applydir:Y:
    image

Prepare the system partition (W2G-System)

  1. Y:WindowsSystem32>bcdboot Y:Windows /f ALL /s X:
    image

Apply SAN Policy 4

  1. Copy the following code in a text file named san_policy.xml:
    1. When using an X86 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”offlineServicing”>
      < component xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance” language=”neutral” name=”Microsoft-Windows-PartitionManager” processorArchitecture=”x86″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ versionScope=”nonSxS” >
      < SanPolicy>4
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
    2. When using an X64 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”offlineServicing”>
      < component xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance” language=”neutral” name=”Microsoft-Windows-PartitionManager” processorArchitecture=”amd64″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ versionScope=”nonSxS” >
      < SanPolicy>4
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
  2. Place the san_policy.xml in the root folder of the Windows partition (Y: in this example) and run the following command:
    dism /image:Y: /Apply-Unattend:Y:san_policy.xml
    image

Disable WinRE

  1. Copy the following code in a text file named unattend.xml:
    1. When using an X86 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”oobeSystem”>
      < component name=”Microsoft-Windows-WinRE-RecoveryAgent” processorArchitecture=”x86″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ language=”neutral” versionScope=”nonSxS” xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance”>
      < UninstallWindowsRE>true
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
    2. When using an X64 image file:

      < unattend xmlns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend”>
      < settings pass=”oobeSystem”>
      < component name=”Microsoft-Windows-WinRE-RecoveryAgent” processorArchitecture=”amd64″ publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″ language=”neutral” versionScope=”nonSxS” xmlns:wcm=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance”>
      < UninstallWindowsRE>true
      < /component>
      < /settings>
      < /unattend>
  2. Place the unattend.xml in the Y:WindowsSystem32Sysprep folder.

That’s all…now just boot your favorite PC to Windows 8 (change the boot order so USB is booted first).