Microsoft has been unveiling particulars of Windows 8, with the most recent tidbit focusing on the upcoming operating system’s easy interoperability with two popular file-storage formats (ISO and VHD).
Windows 8 will allow users to access an ISO file without either needing to burn a new disc or needing to find/download/install additional software just to logically access the ISO.
The ISO standard describes a method by which photos, video, applications, documents or other content (excluding CD audio) are organized on CDROM or DVD optical media. The reason for the popularity of these standards is they allow CDROM and DVD media content to be easily interchanged across systems from different vendors. An ISO file is simply a disc image stored as a file, composed of all of the contents of a CDROM or DVD disc.
To access an ISO file in Windows 8, all you need do is just “mount” the ISO file and you can do this by selecting 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. And once you are done using the ISO, you can (virtually) “eject” it, and the virtual drive disappears.
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.
Accessing a VHD in Windows 8 is as simple as with ISO files, the only difference is rather than appearing as a removable drive (as is the case with ISO), VHDs appear as new hard drives one that users can work with “just like any other file storage in your system whether you are modifying, adding or removing files.
Once you are done working with the VHD, like an ISO, you can right-click it and click Eject or just use the Eject button on the ribbon. Any changes made remain saved within the file.
As posted in the official Windows 8 blog;
The trend of incredibly large and small form-factor hard disks means we can store ever increasing amounts of data without worrying about running out of capacity. Windows 8 enables easy access to the contents of two important storage formats, ISO and VHD files. While we generally think of these formats when they appear on media, they are also very useful as files within a file system and that is where native support in Explorer comes in handy.