People have been figuring out ways to run operating systems from portable USB flash drives for pretty much as they’ve been available. But while installing a Linux distribution on a USB key is often pretty simple, Windows is another story. Sure, you can run Windows from a flash drive, but it’s kind of a pain.
It looks like that could change when Windows 8 hits the scene. The folks at MyDigitalLife got their hands on a leaked pre-release copy of Windows 8 and spotted a new feature called Portable Workspaces.
The Portable Workspace Creator utility will let Windows users load a portable Windows installation onto a USB flash drive with 16GB of storage or more.
You’ll need Windows 8 Enterprise Edition to get this working, suggesting the feature is designed for business users who may need to frequently switch physical computers or IT folks who may find the feature useful for PC maintenance tasks.
It seems likely that a Portable Workspace will be linked to your full blown Windows 8 license, so it’s not clear how many workspaces you’ll be able to create, how many machines you’ll be able to run a workspace on, or whether there may be any other restrictions. But it certainly seems like it could be a nifty new feature for enterprise customers — and probably to a fair number of consumers as well.