Windows 8 has a new feature called Windows to Go that allows an installation of Windows 8 to boot from a USB drive, or external hard drive. Potential uses are many. Corporate networks might require you to boot from a Windows to Go USB key before connecting to their network. Universities could hand out USB keys with installations tailored to specific majors. Perhaps someday you may just unplug your USB key and take it home, rather than taking an entire notebook. It could also prove useful for malware removal. However, maybe the most attractive use today, is to boot Windows 8 Consumer Preview on your current hardware, without the need to dual-boot, or upgrade an existing installation of Windows.
Windows to Go has safety and security features to prevent data theft, and exposure of the hosts OS. The system will shut down in 60 seconds if the USB drive is removed. Any drives on the host system must be mounted before they are accessible to Windows to Go.
The first time Windows to Go boots on a system it installs the drivers unique to that hardware. Subsequent boots are faster, and go straight to Windows 8. System performance on USB 2.0 or 3.0 is quite good. A great way to test Windows 8 using a ‘Live USB’, and leave your current system untouched.