Many of you have likely handled disc image files or even virtual hard drives. Sometimes there's no need to burn a DVD if you already have the disc image on your hard drive. While there is third-party software that will quickly and conveniently mount a disc image so that it appears as a DVD drive, such functionality will be baked into Windows 8.
Rajeev Nagar, principal group program manager for Windows, detailed Windows 8's built-in ISO and VHD mounting support.
"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," he wrote. "Underneath the covers, Windows seamlessly creates a 'virtual' CDROM or DVD drive for you on-the-fly so you can access your data."
Windows 8 will also support mounting of virtual drives.
"The Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format is a publicly-available image format specification that allows encapsulation of the hard disk into an individual file for use by the operating system as a virtual disk in all the same ways physical hard disks are used," Nagar explained. "VHDs are handy for portability of system settings or to play back what has been saved as a snapshot of a system."
"Accessing a VHD in Windows 8 is as simple as what we’ve done with ISO files, but there is one important difference: rather than appearing as a removable drive (as is the case with ISO), VHDs appear as new hard drives," wrote Nagar.
Check out a demo of this function in the video below: