Something we love to do at Bit-Wizards is brag about all the amazing technology we get to work with everyday. And one of the best ways we can show off these awesome products is through a MEC. Even in the acronym-filled world of IT, you may not be familiar with the term, but MEC stands for “Microsoft Experience Center.” This is a program provided by Microsoft that puts the power of a Microsoft powered business in the hands of the business professional so that they can experience a unified platform in a real-world scenario. We regularly do MEC presentations around the country, and it’s my job to prepare the devices for our sales teams to take with them.
An essential component in our MEC setup is Windows-To-Go, a feature built into Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition. I am going to talk more about Windows-To-Go in my next blog post, but for now it's enough to know that it allows you to run Windows from a USB thumb drive on any device.
After I had received instruction to set up the systems for our MEC, I researched what USB thumb drives are recommended by Microsoft to use for the Windows-To-Go environment. Here is a short list of some of the certified drives approved by Microsoft for use with Windows-To-Go: IronKey
, Kingston DataTraveler Workspace, and SPYRUS Portable Workspace. Microsoft provides a full list here
. These drives are certified because of their reliability in read/write access and their compatibility for a variety of PCs.
We chose the IronKey for our MECs because it has a 256-bit AES hardware encryption built in and is tamper-resistant. If the drive is lost or stolen, we are confident that no data will ever be recovered from the drive. If someone enters an incorrect password too many times, the self-destruct feature on the drive will render the entire thumb drive useless. And if anyone tampers with the housing the drive will self-destruct, erasing all data. The IronKeys I purchased are USB 3.0 for high-speed read/write, and 64 GB each; large enough to store applications and data.
In total, I have ten 64 GB W500 IronKey thumb drives, and I set up the MEC environment on ten Microsoft Surfaces running Windows 8.1 Enterprise. I have nine of the original Surface Pro devices and one Surface Pro 2. We chose the Microsoft Surface because it’s Microsoft’s newest device for the working professional, and for its mobility.
When setting up an IronKey, you will need to run the AdminUnlocker app to gain access to the OS partition. You can find this app at support page of www.ironkey.com
. But before you unlock the OS partition, you will first need to enter the admin password to unlock the drive! This password will be entered every time you boot to the thumb drive. Once the OS partition is unlocked, you can run the script to install Windows-To-Go to the IronKey. This set-up does take a bit of time, but once the process is complete, you can then boot to the thumb drive using a compatible device (in our MEC case, the Surface) to set-up the persona for the test.
Windows-To-Go has some impressive features which I’ll talk about in my next blog post. But if you’d like to see our demonstration with a Microsoft Experience Center, just get in touch