WinToGo 10 with a thunderbolt drive on MBP late 2018

There is a good article for WinToGo setup on MBP2018, along with this article and my old post for MBP2012, but just good for USB drive only. If you want to do that with a thunderbolt3 drive, several days of rebooting is ahead.

First, WinToUsb won’t list thunderbolt drives, therefore the old ways of imagex/dism and bcdboot to make the bootable install drive is your friend. But Win10 boot setup always fails with mysterious error “Windows setup could not configure to run on this computer’s hardware” during setup spinning interface. Nothing googled directly helps, including the popular “msoobe” command hack. After hours of trials, this post gives the correct steps for disk partitions setup. Actually the first article above mentioned the hack to format with “EFI System Partition”, which will do the same trick to create msr partition automatically, but new windows 10 seems not to create the correct partitions, causing the preparation setup error.

Second, the Windows 1803 version won’t install on thunderbolt3 drive with MBP 2018. It always fails with DMA Access Violation crash blue screen, which is related to storage driver. Since MBP 2018 came out in later half of the year, Windows 1809 version will have the correct thunderbolt3 drivers included.

Third, Windows 10 will finally boot, install, and freeze if boot camp drivers are added into the install media previously. It might be related to the AMD Radeon drivers and ReLive settings app. The answer is to boot setup without add-driver step, which will force to use external mouse and keyboard to continue the setup process, as the built-in keyboard with touch bar and trackpad won’t work without boot camp drivers.

Finally, WinToGo 10 can install and run successfully now. Afterwards, boot camp drivers install might take quite a long time and hang for the USB XHCI controller. Anyway, it doesn’t matter for an unrecognized mass storage device after a forced restart. Everything works with super fast speed including AMD display card, thunderbolt drive and USB devices!

Several Updates:

The unrecognized devices listed in Win10 Device Manager should be T2 related, which are unaccessible in Windows. Because ACPI power management is also controlled by T2, Win10 by present uses standard Microsoft driver for power management, which will show strange battery behaviors like discharging even if power is plugged-in. The only hope is new BootCamp drivers.

WinToGo 8.1 on rMBP mid 2012

This blog has detail instructions to install USB WinToGo for Mac. But things won’t go that smooth on pre-2013 rMBP.

Firstly, diskpart from Windows cmd within Virtual Machine seems to have limitations, especially for Win8.1. Partitioning can work sometime but formatting will probably fail. Therefore, diskutil in Mac is the solution for disk handling. But another problem occurs. FAT32 partition is tried but found to cause errors during imagex transfer due to large file size restrictions. But disktuil doesn’t support NTFS. At last, NTFS partition is formatted with diskutil with the help of Paragon-NTFS 14 in El Capitan.

Secondly, “bcdboot /f ALL” will create EFI boot mode for usb drive, under which Win2Go can be successfully installed but instantly turns into black screen when installing bootcamp/nvidia drivers. It’s because that pre-2013 MBP is not fully compatible with UEFI crashing the graphics/audio drivers under EFI boot. The solution is to boot with CSM-BIOS mode. That means when booting MBP with alt, “Windows” is the only menu choice not “EFI”. Clearing the boot partition and “bcdboot /f BIOS” for BIOS boot mode section. However, the “none system disk” error shows when booting the “Windows” option.

Finally, this article sheds the light. “bootsect /nt60 x: /force /mbr” to force using the win8.1 bootmgr will boot your MBP into Win8.1, with all bootcamp drivers ready to be installed.

Enjoy the Win2Go, thanks for the almighty Google and a whole day of rebooting!