Microsoft StartKey – Windows on a USB


Microsoft has been working on a new product known as “StartKey” — that will allow users to carry their Windows and Windows settings with them. StartKey isn’t just for USB sticks; it also will work on other flash-storage devices, like SD memory cards.

StartKey has its roots in an agreement Microsoft made with SanDisk in May 2007. Microsoft announced it would be providing software to replace the U3 Smart Technology that was included on SanDisk flash devices.

microsoft start key usb

Microsoft’s plan is to provide a complete suite of tools for consumers and developers to help push the portable computing paradigm into the mainstream. In addition to USB flash drives, StartKey technology could work on other flash memory types like SD cards, or any other new storage format of the week. An SDK will be provided to developers so they can enable their own applications to plug into the platform and go portable.

A Microsoft research presentation from a couple years ago titled Your Desktop on Your Keychain offers a glimpse into Microsoft’s ideas behind StartKey. Advantages such as saving and resuming from standby are touted, and the technology behind an early VirtualPC-over-network concept is explained. Pitfalls are also mentioned, such as the loss of the network while using StartKey and the obvious security concerns of placing both sensitive data and other settings on something as steal-able as a flash drive.

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Filed under General. Posted by Abhishek and last updated on March 15, 2011.