back to article Microsoft preparing for diskless Windows 8 PCs

Microsoft has imagined future computers that don't include onboard disks, but do boot from external USB 3.0 devices, and has prepared Windows 8 so that it can install and operate in such environments. Microsoft's Michael Niehaus, a senior product manager and the lead developer for the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, revealed the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copy copy copy copy Apple!

    1. Alastair Dodd 1
      Stop

      shouldn't feed the trolls

      but Linux has done this for 10 years plus. Apple yet again didn't invent it.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        Linux wasn't first either

        There were several BSD and UNIX systems booting from the network long before Linux was even a twinkle in linus' eye. Back when a 10 MB disk was a major investment and punch cards/paper tape ruled the earth.

      2. Big Ron

        Re: shouldn't feed the trolls

        Way older than that. Datapoint (long gone now) had machines that booted and ran off the local area network 30 (yup, thirty) years ago.

    2. JimC
      Mushroom

      Yeah right...apple, schmapple

      I was running diskless Windows 3.1 across the network back in the early 90s before the product bloat made it impossible. Nothing to do with Apple or Linux.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Yeah right...apple, schmapple

        > I was running diskless Windows 3.1 across the network back in the early 90s

        I was running diskless ICL DRS20 machines (8085 based) across the network (micronet) back in 1980. Even this derived from the mid-70s networked ICL/Cogar 1500 series.

    3. Bod

      Prior art by miles

      Remeber the Spectrum, C64, BBC Micro, even the Archimedes...

      OS in ROM, boot in a second or two. No disc required (though the Archimedes generally used a disc to stick all the wider apps on but doesn't need one, as I've found with my initial play with RISC OS on a Pi which is currently not seeing a "disc", yet the OS loads fine from what is equivalent to the old ROM just on SD card instead).

      Definitely need to be going back to the core & kernel of the OS loading off a fast Flash device and should not need updating that often. Anything else, up to you how/where you want to store it. Flash, SSD, hard disc, even the cloud!

    4. HMB

      Apple Perfects, Never Invents

      You know I'm not aware of Apple inventing ANYTHING.

      It is a leader at taking something done rough, and smoothing the edges into a sublime shape, whether it be UI, human machine interfaces etc...

      But invent? GUI - Stole, Multitouch - Stole and pretended they did it themselves.. same with pinch to zoom.

      They are shit hot at implementing an old idea in a fantastic, highly developed, slick way and I give them all the credit for that, but invent? I'm struggling, genuinely struggling.

    5. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Flame

      Apple

      You said Apple, Burn Burn

      P.S I agree with the comments, but I want to flame you

    6. Manu T

      "Copy copy copy copy Apple!"

      What has apple got to do with it?

      I'd say they rather copied the idea from RISC OS which is a truely DISKLESS OS. Since it is in ROM. In fact smartphone OS's are diskless OS's too.

      I think booting a computer from a USB-stick is a very good idea. I've been doing it for at least 2 years now with Puppy Linux and Ubuntu).

      I fail to see whats so 'newsworthy' on something that's been done already in 1992 (and well before that since the majority of 8-bit homecomputers had their 'OS' in rom) by the less mainstream US/UK brightest minds or by the geniuses at e.g. PendriveLinux.com (and the likes).

      It must be my old age, I guess.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Older than RISC

        Diskless OS was the original OS, mainframe terminals. Client-server is on a 30 year march back to the mainframe architecture... or cloud.

    7. Steven Roper
      Mushroom

      Re Copy copy copy copy Apple!

      That post makes me wish that downvotes were functionally equivalent to bullets.

  2. frank ly

    Many possible solutions

    I have an old USB memory stick that has a 'secure' hidden partition that is manipulated by a supplier utility. This reports itself as a separate drive when plugged in. It's definitely possible, all that's needed is for everybody to agree to a standard. The possession of patents in this area may be a sticking point.

    Why not go for external SSD drives connected by a short SATA cable?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many possible solutions

      the standard already exists, SD cards have the ability to use a small chunk of space for storing information and code, typically this is used for helping to speed up data rates by prefetching data and having frequent access lists, its also used for storying encryption keys and such like, what i dont know however is how much this space actually is, the remainder of the SD card can be partitioned as any other device.

      What you would have is a a secure storage system that is encrypted and can only be accessed via the device that made it, formatting the secure section renders the whole of the SD card useless

      its actually very very handy and was used on Windows phones that had removable storage (faked as hidden (HD7))

  3. Mystic Megabyte

    "Special hardware” will therefore be needed to.........." whatever

    Er, no thanks!

    1. The Alpha Klutz

      "Special hardware” will therefore be needed

      Not sure I understand why exactly.

      Is Microsoft going to make custom USB sticks with 4 partitions built in? Why do they run dangerously hot?

      Sounds dodgy

    2. Manu T

      @ Mystic Megabyte

      "Special hardware” will therefore be needed to.........."

      Wot? You don't like that small holograpic sticker with Microsoft logo on that shiny USB stick then? ;-)

  4. GottaBeKidding

    Can't be partitioned...?

    "“USBs report themselves as fixed disk,” Niehaus told the crowd in his session, and therefore cannot be partitioned."

    What is this guy smoking?

    1. HMB

      Re: Can't be partitioned...?

      I know, I mostly use Windows, but if I want to partition an USB flash drive I need to pop into Ubuntu, WTF Microsoft?

    2. Manu T

      Re: Can't be partitioned...?

      "What is this guy smoking?"

      I reckon the cellophane wrappings on those Microsoft Windows packages ;-)

  5. Robin Bradshaw
    Devil

    “USBs report themselves as fixed disk,” Niehaus told the crowd in his session, and therefore cannot be partitioned. “Special hardware” will therefore be needed to

    Horse shit! Just because windows is brain dead and wont let you partition a USB stick doesnt mean you need special hardware, they just need to rewrite their usb removable disk driver so it isnt so stupid, partitioned usb drives work just fine under linux.

    I think what they really meant is we wont let your drive work unless you pay us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, that's what I was thinking - I'm fairly sure I had Linux booting off a 2GB USB stick (actually a 2GB SD card in a USB holder) and it worked OK. Reason I did that was to save taking 2 laptops on a business trip, took the work laptop and used the SD card to boot up Linux so I could do some website work I was doing - had the LAMP stack running & everything.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Boffin

        You can partition USB sticks

        It's just the Windows formatter doesn't let you. It will recognise them though.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: You can partition USB sticks

          Weird! I could have SWORN my linux XBMC boots off an UBUNTU core USB with EFI and has multiple partition USB pen. It has a system partition, SWAP partition and a data partition. I didnt even need EFI (I needed to run the setup a second time to FORCE it to use EFI) - I only did it so I had experience if I ever dual booted W7 and linux on EFI.

          I must have been dreaming when I set that up.

          1. Manu T

            Re: You can partition USB sticks

            "I must have been dreaming when I set that up."

            Yes, you are. Ask anyone at Microsoft. You NEED special hardware for that. It's called a brain and the engineers at Microsoft are currently still working on that! :-)

        2. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
          Boffin

          Re: You can partition USB sticks

          You sure about that? I haven't tried it under Windows 7 or 8, but under XP at least it would only see the first partition as I recall.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: You can partition USB sticks

            I've partitioned one with Disk Utility on the Mac and Windows read it.

            After checking Google maybe Disk Utility flipped the "removable disk" bit when setting up a partitioned USB stick. Lexar's BootIt seems to be often quoted as a Windows tool which can do the same thing.

            1. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
              Boffin

              Re: You can partition USB sticks

              There is that - if you have a utility that can flip the removable disk bit then Windows doesn't know any different and will happily support multiple partitions. I didn't know those were available for USB sticks but I've used them on CF drives in embedded systems for the same reason.

              1. pPPPP

                Re: You can partition USB sticks

                You can get Windows XP to boot from a USB stick, but it needs some hacking. You need the cfadisks.sys driver which was written by Hitachi for microdrives and makes Windows think the USB stick is a fixed disk rather than removable. This allows you to partition the disk.

                You also need to edit the registry so that the USB storage drivers are loaded on boot rather than once Windows is loaded.

                I've got a stick with several Linux distros on it (puppy etc.) as well as a Truecrypt encrypted Windows partition, with a bunch of work stuff on it (VPN etc.) so I can use a colleague's laptop if mine dies. Works a treat, although I'll admit it took some setting up.

                It doesn't work with Windows 7 though, at least not the 64-bit version due to the lack of driver support. Not that I've tried too hard. XP does what I need.

      2. Manu T

        You're imagining things... really... ask any Microsoft employee!

        "Yeah, that's what I was thinking - I'm fairly sure I had Linux booting off a 2GB USB stick"

        Naaah, you're just imagining things. Ask anyone at Microsoft.... you should stop smoking pot and enter the real world... you know, the world with ivory towers, Santa Claus and lying bitches walking besides their shoes.

  6. h4rm0ny
    Unhappy

    I hate recovery partitions

    Title says it all really. Annoying disk eating things. I would rather just re-install from a DVD or USB device and have the drive space back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hate recovery partitions "I would rather just re-install from a DVD"

      So would any sensible person, but the MS terms and conditions forced on volume PC builders who want lowest cost for their Windows tax make it prohibitively expensive to supply recovery media with every device. Plus a recovery partition is easier/cheaper for the vendors even without MS Ts+Cs - nothing to order, nothing to make, nothing to stock, nothing to go out of date as software images are updated.

      1. ElNumbre
        Thumb Up

        Re: I hate recovery partitions "I would rather just re-install from a DVD"

        Plus a recovery partition allows the manufacturer to make it easy for the end user to reinstall their crapware when it inevitably breaks Windows 6 months down the line.

        IT systems engineers (and those with a little knowledge) probably get around the problem by getting a new machine out of the box - powering it up to make sure it works, then immediatly reboot the machine, formatting the harddisk and starting a fresh with the barest build Microsoft will allow you to install.

        1. Wize

          Re: I hate recovery partitions "I would rather just re-install from a DVD"

          Recovery partitions don't work when the hard drive acts up.

          Where's your backup? On the same physical drive.

          1. Manu T

            Re: I hate recovery partitions "I would rather just re-install from a DVD"

            "Where's your backup? On the same physical drive."

            ... and then it's called a whackUp :o)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hate recovery partitions

      well, that's you - I'd rather the system healed itself without a reinstall. This is the 21st century after all

      1. RonWheeler

        I love recovery partitions...

        ...for home users. Relatives mess up their Dell, I tell them to hit F11 for whatever and do what it says on the screen. Problem fixed. Saved me days.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4 Partitions

    I may be wrong here, but doesn't this mean that a Windows 8 device will require 4 primary partitions?

    And if so, how does one create a 5th to install another OS (or indeed just to manage data better)?

    1. spodula

      Re: 4 Partitions

      The guid partition layout thats part of the EFI standard gives you as many entries as you want. there is no concept of primary and secondary partitions. The old MBR layout is only good for disks up to 2Gb anyway. (Recently bumped into this issue)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 4 Partitions

        Thanks for that response. I'm glad that issue will finally be put to bed.

      2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: 4 Partitions

        The old MBR layout is only good for disks up to 2Gb anyway.

        Er, shouldn't that be 2TB ?

        1. spodula

          Re: 4 Partitions

          Yes, your correct, its 2Tb.

          Mea Culpa.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4 Partitions

      "how does one create a 5th to install another OS (or indeed just to manage data better)?"

      One doesn't, neither will Windows co-exist with dual-boot :)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “USBs ... cannot be partitioned."

    "“USBs report themselves as fixed disk,” Niehaus told the crowd in his session, and therefore cannot be partitioned."

    This is so wrong it's laughable, as many many many real people will know from personal experience, having seen it done. The "journalist" and "editor " (?) here faithfully reporting it as fact do themselves no favours.

    I've seen this "impossibility" of partitioned USB devices on so many USB sticks that I can't even remember the brand names of most of them, or even when I first saw it, but this week I am mostly using a rather ancient SanDisk Cruzer with a pretty orange light that flashes interestingly when used with a Linux. I've also seen USB-attached disk drives with partitions (are they conceptually different from memory-on-a-stick)?

    Or is this "new" feature actually based on something specific to USB3, in which case a mention would have been nice?

    Or is this maybe something to do with MS's desire for Trusted Computing and cryptographic boot protection (e.g. no more unauthorised "rescue disks" that can trivially bypass NTFS security?), and MS don't want to let on to the real reason they're spouting this rubbish?

  9. b166er

    What's in the system partition then?

    You can make a USB key take a partition structure with the right tool. (Involves flipping the bit that marks it as removable).

    Presumably '“USBs report themselves as fixed disk,” Niehaus told the crowd' should have read "USBs report themselves as removable,"

    As for external storage running 'dangerously' hot, do they mean a risk of fire?

    From an enterprise security standpoint, I can see Windows-To-Go as a great idea. Easy to lose a laptop, less easy to lose a USB key attached to your keys (plus the added step of having to remove the key before stowing the laptop). Perhaps you could even boot Windows 8 from the USB storage in your phone (wirelessly)? That would be ideal.

  10. Magnus_Pym
    FAIL

    Microsoft reports success...

    ... in overcoming self imposed limitations. Whoop-de-do.

  11. Silverburn

    Recovery partitions are alright...

    *IF* that partition contains a vanilla install, and *if* the partition size is sensible (eg don't have a 20gb partition for a 4gb install image).

    However, what it normally means is it's filled with bloatware, desktops etc from the off, so you spend the first hour post-install getting rid of it all.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Still haven't separated OS and Data

    In Linux, one of the greatest things of all time for me is that I can have a separate partition for /home so if the OS goes tits up, or I just fancy a change, I don't have to hoik all my data off the machine before I re-do it.

    With Windows this has always been a problem, and it sounds like it will remain a problem well in to the future.

    Whenever someone comes to me with a bent machine that needs a rebuild, I spend shed loads of time taking their data off the machine and then putting it back on again.

    1. JimC

      Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

      [sigh]

      There's nothing that stops you doing that, and any half sensible system admin will do so. Normally I'd put it on the network, but the ridiculous bloat in the profile of recent versions is making that problematic, esp over a WAN.

      Ogf course there are apps about that assume C drive for the data, but increasingly few IME.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

      not sure what you're on about there? there are several ways you CAN separate your data in windows (change the special folder locations or set up a junction to c:\users etc etc etc) , just like you say you CAN in linux.

      Its not done by default in linux, just like it isnt in windows.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

        > Its not done by default in linux, just like it isnt in windows.

        You must have been using a numpty distro. IME it is normal in linux distros, but it is a distro rather than kernel option.

        It's been a few years since I've tried, but windows used to make a hash of it, since drive space was calculated at the "drive letter" level - directory mounted volumes appeared to be a kludge.

        Also, separation is not as useful under windows, since the UIDs are unique to the installation and you'll end up with "unknown user" which isn't easy to fix (unless you've got central authentication running from somewhere else) since user data appears to be scattered all over the system - file and registry.

        For example, I keep a spare partition so I can do a clean install to a different partition for a major upgrade and just remount the user directories. I made the mistake of trying to do the same thing for a windows install. I suspect there is a migration agent somewhere which will do it cleanly, but linux... well it's just less hassle. I also tried changing the "special folder" location - that didn't go well.

        I'm sure all this stuff can be done under windows, it just seems like more trouble than its worth.

    3. Fuzz

      Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

      redirected special folders have been around since at least XP, maybe even 2000.

      NTFS partitions can be mounted in folders in the same way you can on linux.

      Windows 7 introduced (to windows) the idea of libraries, where you can group several folders together so you could have your documents folder spread across several disks but all accessed together.

      The problem is most people don't have a clue about this stuff or why it's useful. I recommend to most people they just have one big partition and just take decent backups. I see a lot of laptops where the OEM has split the disk into two partitions for OS and data but the owner doesn't understand that so they have a full C drive and an empty D. Since keeping your data on a separate partition doesn't remove the need for backups and most people don't regularly reinstall their OS, I think most people are better off with a single partition.

      1. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

        @ Fuzz, AC 09:06, JimC

        So, does this mean our IT people are lying when they say my "C:\Documents and Settings\myname" folder can't be "H:\Documents and Settings\myname" instead? (where H is the individual network drive allocation)

        1. Magnus_Pym

          Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

          Would I be right in saying that you can do it in Windows but:

          You have to do it yourself, It's not offered as an install option.

          There may still be applications that throw up on you if you do.

          It can be slow over a network

        2. Turtle_Fan

          Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

          Yep. There's no limitation to map your profile and all that goes with it (documents etc.) to network location and keep it synced and up to date.

          The problem is that this is typically slower, increases network bandwidth and can lead to data loss more easily than taking regular backups of your profile. Which why the IT dept. where you are is playing it safe and not allowing you to map things that way.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

          Yes. And no.

          Yes you can mount a network share in any directory, but no as (if you're running roaming profiles) you should use the server to host the user profile and a network drive automatically mounted to host the non-profile user data.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

            Part of the problem is that people are talking, here, of enterprise. I'm talking home user; the kind of person who, if they inserted the recovery CD, would lose every last bit of personal data.

            Under /home are not only all my files but all the preferences, etc. and the applications that I install separately are mostly self contained when I want them .... eg, Celtx, just make sure the file is marked executable and run it. For the rest of the stuff, a simple sudo apt-get install, walk away, come back half an hour later and everything I want is installed; it already picks up the pre-existing preference files and all the extra fonts that are located in /home/username/.fonts ... and all sorts of stuff that makes the re-installation process SO easy.

            With Windows, although you could right click and move the "my documents" folder it took a registry hack to alter the location of the documents and setings folder, and as for the user part of the registry, well, you could forget that; all software would have to be re-installed and re-validated again, wasting hours.

            As for Windows 7, the plethora of extra folders that are in there for backwards compatability which give, "Access Denied" problems and all that stuff ... it is a real pain in the rear.

            Re-install, patch and get full range of applications on a Linux machine, probably two hours at the worst on a 6Mb/s ADSL line. Windows ... scrub a day, easy.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

              @Michelle:

              The recovery of a Windows system will always try to recover, rather than re-install, if possible. There have also been various improvements made to this in W8. Re-installation, which is what you seem to be talking about, will - by default - on both Linux and Windows re-partition the whole disk.

              User preferences in Windows are stored with the profile, as by default is your user data. Preferences are loaded into the Registry of the machine at logon. Therefore, if you destroy a Windows install and have your ID on a different disk/partition you'll get all your preferences and data back.

              The repo system used in Linux is great, but not a panacea, it is heavily skewed towards FOSS software, if you need anything commercial you're either going to be running scripts or manually installing an rpm, should one have been made available.

              I am not aware of any Linux system where you could move a critical folder and all of the conf files which point to it would be automagically updated. It is now possible to move the special folders with tweakui, other utils or a registry hack.

              All the folders which give access denied are pointers to folders where the name has changed, sure you have to learn the new names, but I have to learn something every time I use something new. Not a big deal.

              I install Windows, Linux, UNIX and occasionally Mac systems all the time at work, Windows 2003/XP does take a lot longer, but it is nearly ten years old, Windows 7/2008R2 is way faster, it certainly doesn't take even a morning, let alone a day.

              1. Vic

                Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

                > if you need anything commercial you're either going to be running scripts or manually installing an rpm

                This is not true.

                It is a trivial matter to create a repository; it doesn't need to be FOSS within that repository. Adding that repo to the user's list of active repos means that your commercial software pops up right alongside all that FOSS in the package manager browser.

                Vic.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

                  Vic: Re repos: Why would you create a repo at home for installing COTS software? I can see why you'd bother to do so in a large enterprise, but we're talking about individuals here. Besides, it's fairly trivial to setup a similar system for Windows in the enterprise.

                  1. Vic

                    Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

                    > Why would you create a repo at home for installing COTS software?

                    You probably wouldn't. That's not the purpose of the repository.

                    But the vendor of that software could do so trivially. And then updates go through the same channel as everything else.

                    > Besides, it's fairly trivial to setup a similar system for Windows in the enterprise.

                    Maybe it is. But my comment was in reply to the comment "if you need anything commercial you're either going to be running scripts or manually installing an rpm", which is patently untrue.

                    Vic.

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

        4. Clive Galway

          Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

          "So, does this mean our IT people are lying when they say my "C:\Documents and Settings\myname" folder can't be "H:\Documents and Settings\myname" instead? (where H is the individual network drive allocation)"

          Possibly.

          You can set up a junction (Symbolic Link) to move your profile to other places, but moving your windows profile to a network disk could be an issue if the file sharing does not initialize before windows needs to load your profile.

        5. Boothy Silver badge
          Go

          @ S4qFBxkFFg

          Quote: 'So, does this mean our IT people are lying when they say my "C:\Documents and Settings\myname" folder can't be "H:\Documents and Settings\myname" instead? (where H is the individual network drive allocation)'

          'can't' doesn't always mean a technical limitation, it could be a policy etc.

          But technically you can.

          From you path, I assume you on Win XP?

          If so, all you have to do is right click on 'My Documents' and there should be a target folder location showing your example path.

          Underneath there is a Move button, just click and browse to where you want your new 'My Documents' to be, including Network mounted drives, secondary drives in the same PC etc.

          Same works for My Documents, My Pictures, My Video, and My Music as well.

          So yes, Windows has been able to do this for years without issue. Win 7 just gives you more flexibility now with it's Library approach. i.e. You could have local and network locations at the same time. For example I have all my music on the Network, so my 3 Win 7 systems have all had that network location added to the local music libraries, so to each machine it looks like local data, and any new files added appear for everyone.

      2. Manu T

        Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

        "where the OEM has split the disk into two partitions for OS and data but the owner doesn't understand that so they have a full C drive and an empty D."

        This is due to the use o/t preinstaller being used. Most didn't cope with NTFS so the initial pre-install was one on a small(er) FAT32 C:-drive and then converted to NTFS (so the knowledgable end-user wouldn't know) not to mention that the windows user-setup should have detected an empty D: drive and used that automagically for user data.

        Anyway, YOU know this. So why don't you provide that service for the computer-illiterate at an acceptable fee. You could make a buck or two. Don't complain, turn this into an opportunity.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

      try copying your data to cloud ...

      1. Vic
        Joke

        Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

        > try copying your data to cloud ...

        We're talking about separating OS and Data, not Data from User...

        Vic.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. Pseu Donyme

      Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

      I wanted to move the profile directory (Windows 'home directory') to another 'disk' (drive letter) with a Virtual Box installation I set up for running Lightroom on XP on a Linux host. I wanted the OS disk (C:) / image file to contain the barest minimum of stuff so that it would be easy to back up, while all the user data was to go on what XP sees as a network drive provided by Virtual Box, in reality a directory on the Linux side for easy access and backup (from the Linux side). The short of it is that it apparently couldn't be done.

      The registry edit relocating the profile directory didn't work for a network drive, nor did junctions*. I suppose setting up a samba server on the Linux side for the profile directory might have worked, I didn' t try that as it seemed far too complicated for such a simple thing.

      For my purposes moving the 'My Documents' directory to the 'network drive' was good enough and for this the Virtual Box network drive worked ok: it seems Lightroom puts most of its data there by default**. Lightroom gave me trouble about its 'catalog' (picture database) though, it didn't like this being on what seemed like a network drive to it. Turns out one can overcome this by using 'subst'***, which apparently always appears a local drive.

      * I seem to recall the target should have been on a NTFS partition on a local physical disk.

      ** The only exception, I'd recall, was the raw converter cache, which, of course, was configurable from within Lightroom.

      *** That is, 'My documents' is on the drive created by 'subst', which, in turn points to (a directory on) the 'network drive' provided by Virtual Box, which, in reality is a directory under my home directory on the Linux side (where I can use symbolic links to further map things around.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still haven't separated OS and Data

        Network shares as junction points were introduced at vista, you needed a local ntfs disk prior to this.

  13. mark l 2 Silver badge

    So they have basically announced what BartPE has been able to do for years with existing Windows XP/Vista and 7 files. Well done MS

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    timewarp..... woohoo!

    So we're nearly but not quite back to where we were with Dos/Win3.1 where you could have true diskless PC's woohoo..... lol

    Even with Win95 it was kinda/almost possible to run diskless with RPL booting and ramdisk for the OS.

    I wouldnt call having usb storage being diskless at all though.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the 1980's Microsoft

    DEC had diskless VAX cluster members way back then. From about 1986/7 I believe...

    Come on HP get those lawyers wearmed up. (only joking).

  16. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Coat

    Misread the title

    I initally read it as "Microsoft preparing for disliked Windows 8 PCs"

    1. Miek
      Linux

      Re: Misread the title

      I read it as "Microsoft preparing for userless Windows 8 PCs" or even "Microsoft preparing for useless Windows 8 PCs".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Misread the title

        I misread it as "...dickless Windows 8 PCs".

  17. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down

    MS FUD

    Wow USB stick Windows runs really hot, just shows how much hammering the Windows OS does to HDD's and how appalling it is at managing itself or looking after hardware. But as articles go MS has overcome their own limits. Yay!!!!

    4 partitions, well that is one way to limit dual booting with a better OS (fruit or penguin based) If you can't beat them make it so techincally complicated and difficult that you can't.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Discless... I'd rather have the OS on my Smartphone and when put in a dock (connected) to a PC or I/O Devices to show up there (Like the Ubuntu/Android stuff)

  19. Reue

    USB 2.0

    Dont even try it. Took 20 minutes to get to the desktop running a Windows 8 to go USB boot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: USB 2.0

      I wouldn't try to boot anything I wanted up quickly from a USB2 anything. I have a Mythdora box which boots from a USB2 stick, it's cut down as much as possible, but is still slooowww, abuot 5 mins for a very basic XFCE desktop and little else.

      1. Vic

        Re: USB 2.0

        > I wouldn't try to boot anything I wanted up quickly from a USB2 anything

        I have a Fedora USB stick in my pocket. It's my most uiseful recovery tool.

        > still slooowww, abuot 5 mins for a very basic XFCE desktop and little else.

        Then there's something wrong with your installation. I get a desktop up very quickly.

        Vic.

        1. Chemist

          Re: USB 2.0

          "I get a desktop up very quickly."

          Ditto

      2. Reue

        Re: USB 2.0

        Our pXe build and DART environments boot up pretty quick from 2.0. But then they are pretty small.

    2. Badvok
      Facepalm

      Re: USB 2.0

      Might I suggest you try a faster USB stick? Some cheap ones can be really slow, but the best ones can equal typical hard disk read/write speeds.

  20. ElNumbre

    Diskless Booting

    I already use diskless client booting with Windows 7 by iPXE booting an iSCSI disk container holding the Windows 7 installation. I also use a locally installed USB stick as a Readyboost Cache. It works really well on a gigabit network, but don't think i'd like to use it over a WAN - not without caching boxes that could accelerate the data transfer, or a change in technology that could use local USB as a proper file cache. Sounds like this may be facilitiating that going forward.

  21. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Linux

    Alternatively

    Why wait for Microsoft to solve a set of problems of their own making? Create a Linux image on your USB stick and run your copy of Windows in a VM.

  22. That Steve Guy

    Windows 8 hype machine?

    seeing a ton of pro Windows 8/Phone 8 articles at the moment on el reg. Smells like M$ are trying to hype us all up for launch.

    So far I'm not buying into it, the proof of the pudding is in the eating after all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows 8 hype machine?

      Conspiracy? Or maybe it's just good?

      I've personally not used Win8, but I am finding the constant nay-saying about anything pro-MS here rather tedious. The idea that MS could produce something good seems to be so outrageous that you'd rather accuse The Reg of taking bribes...

      1. Vic

        Re: Windows 8 hype machine?

        > you'd rather accuse The Reg of taking bribes...

        I'd accuse certain Reg writers of accepting gratuities from the cmopany about which they've just written a very enthusiastic piece. Particularly as TFA *says* this author did...

        Vic.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Windows 8 hype machine?

        "The idea that MS could produce something good seems to be ..."

        "demonstrably false." There, fixed that for you.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    running hot

    Could it be to do with the reading/writing to the swapfile and the indexing process perhaps?

  24. Peter 39

    DVD

    "boot off the DVD"

    Well, you may not have noticed that the very-iMac-like HP Spectre One doesn't have a DVD drive. That's the direction in which things are going. So MS is quite sensible in not replying upon it.

    But this line about being unable to partition a USB-stick. That's just incompetence, pure and simple.

  25. Clive Galway
    WTF?

    Dangerously hot?

    "Such devices, Niehaus said, will have to be certified to run Windows to Go for two reasons, one of which is that in Microsoft's tests external storage ran dangerously hot."

    WTF? So if you take a drive that was internal and put it in an external case, suddenly it runs hot?

    Anyone care to enlighten me as to how this could be possible? The only thing I can think of is that the external cases they were using had no ventilation or cooling - cause if anything I would think the opposite would be true. Ambient temp inside any (conventionally cooled) computer case is going to be higher than the temperature of the room it is in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dangerously hot?

      If something runs hot with a heat sink and you take away the heat sink, then its internals *will* run even hotter, and it likely runs hotter on the exposed outside too.

      There are cases (ahem) where a metallic (or other heat-conductive) case is intentionally used as a heatsink, to aid getting rid of unwanted high temperatures. Some laptops(etc) do this with varying degrees of success, some external storage enclosures I've seen make half hearted attempts at this.

      How this might relate to what the MS man said to the MS-funded El Reg author is another story altogether.

  26. Eeeek
    FAIL

    What do you mean you can't put multiple partitions on USB attached media?

    > “USBs report themselves as fixed disk,” Niehaus told the crowd in his session, and therefore cannot be

    > partitioned. Microsoft has therefore had to work with third parties to create devices capable of making

    > Windows to Go a goer. Super Talent and Kingston Technology have created such devices.

    I've been putting multiple partitions on USB attached media (flash and spinning disk) for at least 10 years. When did they stop letting me partition my USB attached media?

  27. TechW

    Time for new glasses

    I thought the title said "dickless" Windows 8. This being The Register, that somehow made perfect sense to me...

    1. Manu T

      Re: Time for new glasses

      @ TechW

      El Reg doesn't bite the hand that feeds the IT as it used to be

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