I have been a huge proponent of Windows to Go (WTG) since it was first announced in Windows 8. I love being able to run Windows off a USB key, because it allows me to use any computer as my corporate environment. That is the theory; the practical is that I use my personal device (Microsoft Surface Pro 4) as my corporate machine when I am at client sites (with WTG), and as my personal device the rest of the time.
With all of the advantages to this, there are some shortcomings of WTG which irk me. The first of these is that you cannot perform a version upgrade (say, from Windows 10 1709 to Windows 10 1803) on Windows to Go… you would have to reinstall it. Yes, there is a third party tool that supposedly allows you to do it, but I looked at it and it was simply more complicated than I was willing to struggle through.
The second shortcoming is more a matter of the particular WTG key that I have. Don’t get me wrong… I swear by my Spyrus Worksafe Pro device. It is 64GB of military grade security, both with regard to the durability and the encryption. That means that some things will be a little harder to tweak… on the odd occasion when they need tweaking.
Last week I applied a firmware patch to my Surface Pro 4. I had probably been putting it off for a couple of months, but I had the cycles so I let it apply. I looked up this particular patch (as I do with most of them) and did not see any glaring alarms, so I applied it.
Later in the day, I tried to reboot into my WTG key, and got the following error screen:
Windows Boot Manager
Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause. To fix the problem:
1. Insert your Windows installation disc and restart your computer.
2. Choose your language settings, and then click “Next.”
3. Click “Repair your computer.”
If you do not have this disc, contact your system administrator or computer manufacturer for assistance.
Info: The Boot Configuration Data for your PC is missing or contains errors.
Okay… the error and the symptoms are not necessarily aligned. The message is telling me that there is a problem with my BCD (Boot Configuration Data file). However, when I try to boot the same WTG key to another computer (including another Surface device) it works. So my BCD is probably fine. Just to be sure, I deleted it and recreated it… and there is no change.
The error screen is telling me to fix it using my Windows installation disc… but that won’t work, simply because the encryption on the device will not allow for that. I would have to create a bootable Windows installation disc that includes the Spyrus Worksafe Pro software, that would allow me to decrypt the drive until it was fixed. That might work… but I won’t be trying, and here’s why:
Remember that first shortcoming that I mentioned? About not being able to upgrade from one major release to the next? Well, sometime this month (I am hearing different reports, some saying as early as this week, others saying that it will be in the regular patch cycle, i.e.: next Tuesday) Microsoft will be releasing the Fall edition (1809) of Windows 10, and I would likely be reinstalling my WTG device anyways. In the meantime, I have no problems booting the device on another computer, extracting any data (most of my data is in the cloud, but you never know what I nonchalantly saved to my desktop). So now, when the new edition is available, I will simply rebuild my WTG key on the new operating system, and I’ll be good to go for another six months… or longer, because Fall releases are supported for three years now!
One thing I would like to know, is why doesn’t WTG allow you to upgrade? It seems like a feature that should be limited only by the available space on your device, and not on the architecture. Oh well, that is a question I will try to remember to ask someone the next time… Oh look, butterflies!
…Now what was I saying?