Windows 8 to support ISO and VHD files

Microsoft set to finally add much-used feature
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Windows 8 will support virtual optical disk images in the next generation desktop operating system, a popular feature that previously required third-party software.

In another detailed engineering blog post on Microsoft's new Building Windows 8 blog, the firm continued a pace with a flood of information on how and why various improvements will be made in the 'reimagined' Windows 8.

"So how does this work in Windows 8? It’s quite simple - just 'mount' the ISO file (you can select mount from the enhanced Explorer ribbon or double-click or right-click on the file), and a new drive letter appears, indicating that the contents are now readily accessible," said Microsoft's storage and file engineer Rajeev Nagar.

This approach will be familiar to a good many Windows users already who doubtless would have installed software such as Daemon Tools or Virtual CloneDrive. Microsoft had earlier released their own tool to allow the easy burning of such ISO files to optical media.

Some of Microsoft's reluctance to add the useful features is likely due to fears of supporting piracy since ISO files are a common way to distribute electronic versions of shop-bought software.

Revealing their ongoing concern, Nagar demonstrated the Disk Image tools of Windows on ISOs of Microsoft Office which he perhaps unnecessarily felt obliged were 'legally obtained'.

Microsoft will also be building in support for so-called VHD files for virtual images of hard drives.

"VHDs are handy for portability of system settings or to play back what has been saved as a snapshot of a system," said Nagar.

"There is one important difference: rather than appearing as a removable drive (as is the case with ISO), VHDs appear as new hard drives."

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