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Will Windows 8 enhanced ISO support make optical discs obsolete?

Posted at 01 September 2011 13:00 CEST by Justin_Massoud

Microsoft’s painstakingly-detailed and fascinating Building Windows 8 tell-all blog has covered USB 3.0 support, a new Explorer interface and an app store. In a new entry, the company explained its decision to revamp ISO access and management. Citing past customer requests, Stephen Sinofsky, Windows Live president, confirmed Windows 8 will offer native Explorer support for both ISO and VHD files.

“While terabytes of storage are available to all of us, managing disk (or disc) image formats remains important for a number of mission-critical operations in many organizations and among power users,” wrote Sinofsky, who also hinted at a big future announcement concerning VHD support.

Rajeev Nagar, group program manager on the Windows 8 Storage and File Systems team, admitted that while physical media are “useful in many situations,” continued progress in the HDD industry means consumers will increasingly be able to transfer their disc-based movie and music collections into digital form. Nagar himself is a self-professed ripper.

“I’ve spent a load of my time (legally) ripping about 900 GB worth of music, and more recently almost 1TB of home video DVDs into my collection,” wrote Nagar. “I know that my backup of our photos and home movies is probably the most important data in my house. Together with backups, storing the most basic things in my house now requires terabytes of space.”

Because storage has become less and less costly (“I know I can buy a 3TB hard disk for less than $200″), Nagar believes making ISO file management simpler is a necessary step.

“This is exactly the feedback we received from many of you who used Windows 7 – the ability to directly use ISO files without requiring a physical CDROM or DVD drive is very important,” he said. To that end, Nagar announced that Windows 8 will remove a standard step from the overall process:

Once created, these [ISO] files can be sent around, downloaded, and stored just like any other file -  however, before you can access the photos, video, applications, documents, or other content contained within the ISO file, you either have to “burn” the ISO file to a writable optical disc or download and install software that allows you to “mount” and access the ISO file contents directly (i.e. without burning). With Windows 8, we have eliminated this last step – you can simply access the contents of the ISO file without needing either needing to burn a new disc or needing to find/download/install additional software just to logically access the ISO.

Nagar touted the platform’s “underneath the covers” approach to ISO file management as “quite simple.”

It’s uncertain if digital media will truly supplant its physical counterpart, but Microsoft certainly seems eager to help it try.

What do you think about the new system? Let us know in the comment section.

There are 9 comments

Grim107
MyCE Member
Posted on: 01 Sep 11 22:48
    Of course, they're not going to bother to advertise that their ISO creator won't bypass DRM. There's going to be a lot of people who will be really disappointed...
    debro
    Blown to smitherines
    Posted on: 02 Sep 11 00:25
      7zip opens ISO's, and freeware is available to mount iso's.
      Getting rid of the explorer interface its nothing new, I've had to kill explorer & and hence start bar, desktop icons & etc, to kill an occassional malware, windows works fine without it. threw windows store has been available since windows ME, and was never popular.

      The only"new" feature is the stupid ipad/mobile interface that its set as the default.

      "shuffle along people, nothing to see here".
      AIRBUD7
      MyCE Member
      Posted on: 02 Sep 11 06:50
        Can you say...ImgBurn / Alcohol 120% / Daemon Tools...This is old stuff...Harddrives can and will FAIL sooner or later...Do not keep all your pictures/family videos on a single Harddrive...Always Burn them to a Disc...And put them in a safe place!!! DVDs cost .25 cent for 4GB or $1.00 for DL/8GB...
        Jeffrey_P
        MyCE Member
        Posted on: 02 Sep 11 12:35
          ISO are handy dandy for viewing DVD or Blu-Ray movies on your computer. I do not see ISO's replacing optical disks anytime soon. People who use a stand alone player will not be able to view ISO's on their stand alone players unless there is a HDMI output from their PC to a HDTV.

          Like somebody in this thread mentioned a hard drive will fail sooner or later. Then what? No, ISO serve a purpose but not as a replacement for optical disks.

          What is the big deal about M$ supporting ISO's anyway? There has been ways to make ISO's for a very long time.

          Jeff
          tmc8080
          MyCE Resident
          Posted on: 03 Sep 11 18:06
            Quote:
            Originally Posted by AIRBUD7
            Can you say...ImgBurn / Alcohol 120% / Daemon Tools...This is old stuff...Harddrives can and will FAIL sooner or later...Do not keep all your pictures/family videos on a single Harddrive...Always Burn them to a Disc...And put them in a safe place!!! DVDs cost .25 cent for 4GB or $1.00 for DL/8GB...

            I'd put a premium quality (good branded) large flash drive against optical media for long term storage... put both in the same environment for 10-15 years and see which one will works perfectly... the simple fact is organic dyes will degrade faster than phase change flash chips.. though I hear they are going to make better drives and media soon that might fix these problems.. but the technology & media (not surprisingly) is quite expensive right now.
            AIRBUD7
            MyCE Member
            Posted on: 03 Sep 11 21:08
              I will take that Bet...
              olyteddy
              Senior Moderator
              Posted on: 03 Sep 11 22:56
                Cheap hard drives have made optical Media pretty well obsolete for me...
                AllanDeGroot
                MyCE Resident
                Posted on: 05 Sep 11 23:36
                  Quote:
                  Originally Posted by olyteddy
                  Cheap hard drives have made optical Media pretty well obsolete for me...
                  Ditto.

                  I still buy spindle packs of 100DVD+R's whenever they are on sale for $25 or less but I don't use them for backups any more.

                  It takes several times as long to burn a disc as it does to swap out a hard drive.
                  Let alone copy the data back off the disc onto a hard drive

                  I have backup installations for all the computers I'm responsible for on spare HDDs.
                  Jeffrey_P
                  MyCE Member
                  Posted on: 06 Sep 11 00:21
                    Quote:
                    Originally Posted by AllanDeGroot
                    Ditto.

                    I still buy spindle packs of 100DVD+R's whenever they are on sale for $25 or less but I don't use them for backups any more.

                    It takes several times as long to burn a disc as it does to swap out a hard drive.
                    Let alone copy the data back off the disc onto a hard drive

                    I have backup installations for all the computers I'm responsible for on spare HDDs.
                    It would be crazy to use optical disks for hard drive backups. Have an external drive for that.

                    Still ISO's for now is not a replacement from backing up your movies on a DVD or Blu-Ray. If you don't have a HDMI connection, coax or optical to some remote audio input source or "B"speaker source you are SOL.
                    Jeff

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