I’ve been using ISOs for a long time to back up all of my installation discs. Normally, right after I install my applications from disc, I leave it in the drive to make an ISO backup. I store my ISO copies on my server, and if I need to install the same application or drivers on different PC I can simply use applications to mount the ISOs directly to the operating system as a drive letter.
Microsoft seems to be continuing its path of adding commonly useful applications on the web and integrating them directly into the operating system.
Windows 7 has the ability to write ISOs natively in the operating system, and now in Windows 8 there should be a native ability to simply mount an ISO directly into the operating system as a drive letter; the same seems to go for VHD formats.
Historically, applications were freely available over the Internet to mount ISO files directly into Windows Explorer as a drive letter. An example of that would’ve been SlySoft’s virtual CloneDrive; it enables you to simply double-click on ISO, bin, CCD file and simply mount that file as a drive letter in Windows Explorer.
Mounting or un-mounting those files were simply a right-click away.
With the addition of Windows 8 having support for ISO, applications like Virtual CloneDrive may become quickly unpopular. I guess it depends on how Microsoft decides to develop the interface.
This video shows the example of how Windows 8 should be handling ISOs and VHD files.
I think some might argue that this functionality has been available through free applications like 7Zip for a while. Being able to open ISOs, read the contents and do various other functions; something that previous versions of Windows didn’t have, but seeing as how popular and how innate these processes have become, the functionality is going to be in the next version of Windows.
These are improvements to the operating system. Improvements to the operating system should include wider support for common file types; files that users are working with on a regular basis. The operating system should be able to recognize, read and manipulate these types of formats naturally. So these are bona fide improvements to the operating system, but I don’t see how this is a major improvement considering applications that mentioned from above are fairly small, and are free.
Knowing that these types of applications are out there for free and offer basically the same functionality that Windows 8 is going to have natively; doesn’t inspire me to purchase the new operating system needs to be something more sufficient to justify purchasing the operating system again [if you're a return customer].
Larry Henry Jr.