WinToGo 10 with a thunderbolt drive on MBP 2018

There is a good article for WinToGo setup on MBP2018, along with this article and my old post for MBP2012, but they are all just good for USB drives only. If you want to do a Win2Go with a thunderbolt3 drive, several days of rebooting is ahead.

WinToGo on External Drive
Bru-nO / Pixabay

Firstly, WinToUsb won’t list thunderbolt drives, making it impossible to create bootable disk. This means the old way of imagex/dism and bcdboot to make a bootable installable thunderbolt drive is your friend. Then Win10 boot setup fails with mysterious error “Windows setup could not configure to run on this computer’s hardware” during the preparation spinning circle interface. Nothing googled directly helps, including the popular “msoobe” command hack. After hours of trials, this post gives the correct steps of bootable disk partitions creation. Actually, the top article above mentioned the hack to format with “EFI System Partition”, which will do the same trick to create MSR partition automatically, but latest windows 10 seems unable to create these correct partitions with the hack, causing the preparation setup failure.

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

Thirdly, Windows 10 boots, installs, and freezes if boot camp drivers are added into the install media. After several rebooting and studying, the problem might be related to the AMD Radeon drivers and ReLive settings. The solution is to begin setup without the add-driver step. It means that the external mouse and keyboard have to be used during the install process. The built-in keyboard with touch bar and trackpad won’t work without boot camp drivers. So prepare an external usb keyboard/mouse for the setup.

Finally, Win2Go of Windows 10 can install and run successfully now. Though, standalone boot camp drivers install might take quite a long time and hang for some USB XHCI controller. Anyway, it doesn’t matter to have an unrecognized mass storage device after a forced restart. Everything works with super fast speed, including the AMD display card, the thunderbolt drive and all USB devices!

Several Updates:

The unrecognized devices listed in Win10 Device Manager could be T2 chip related, which are reserved only for OS X and unaccessible in Windows. Since ACPI power management is also controlled by T2, Win10 will have to use standard Microsoft driver for power management. This will sometime lead to some strange battery behaviors, like discharging even if ac power is plugged-in. The only hope is some future released BootCamp drivers.

Latest Raedon 18.40 bootcamp drivers are here, which seems to fix the power discharging issue when GPU is on.

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!