In a new post over on the building Windows 8 blog, Steven Sinofsky has detailed how Windows 8 will natively support ISO images as well as VHD’s. Windows 8 will be their first OS to natively support ISO’s in the explorer. This means Windows users will no longer have to use third party programs to view and access ISO images.
However there is one little catch. You will not be able to create ISO images natively in Windows 8.
In case you need a utility to create ISO images from existing optical media, there are many tools that give you that capability. One I use is the Oscdimg command line tool that is available as part of our automated deployment kit.
While this is a slight inconvenience for users it’s still a great advantage to have support for ISO images in Windows 8. But it would be great if Microsoft did at least include a tool which would allow users to create ISO images. After all Microsoft are looking to move Windows 8 onto tablets and become a more portable OS. This means an increasing number of devices will not have disk drives built into them.
As you can see from the screenshot above from the blog, Windows 8 will display the ISO image in explorer as a removable device.
With regards to VHD’s, this isn’t really going to mean a whole lot for the average Windows users, but for those who are a little more tech savvy they will know the benefits of this. A lot of back up programs make files in the VHD format, so being able to natively support this format in Windows 8 will be very beneficial. Especially for those who use virtualization tools and programs.
But the great thing about ISO image support in Windows 8 is that it should greatly reduce the need for disk drives on devices. As I mentioned above, the chances are 2 or 3 years for now, there should be a lot more netbooks and tablet devices running Windows 8. These devices more than likely wont have any disk drives on them so will probably rely on USB’s for installing programs.
You can see more about accessing the ISO and VHD images in the video below