Mounting ISO files in Windows 8.1

For the past week, I’ve been using Microsoft Windows 8.1 as my primary OS. More on that decision later.

However, one feature has stood out and has become a favorite. Which is the ability to natively mount an ISO file. No third party software, no installation, and no trusting executables changing intimate registry settings. No longer forced to suckle from the breasts of third party software dealers, slinging code to mount a simple disk image.

Windows 8.1 right click on ISO file in Windows File Explorer.


OK, most of the good ISO mounters are free and mounting an ISO is not technically a “new” feature in Windows. It existed in Windows 8.

However, for those that avoided the plague of Windows 8, it’s a new feature.

As prophesied by the Oracles, that any user staring directly into the Metro user interface, would instantly become confused and no longer have the ability to see in True color or find your own Start button.

In all seriousness, I didn’t have much time to play with, test, or commit a lot of lab time to Windows 8 as I had other projects that took focus.

Beyond installing Windows 8 a few times in a virtual machine to see what the fuss was about, I have little to no experience with Windows 8. I would say that my jump to Windows 8.1 from my beloved Windows 7 has been a somewhat smooth transition.

Right clicking and selecting Mount. What a novel idea? Right? Should it have taken this long to include the feature natively? No. Was it a matter of licensing or a standard being finalized? No and No.

For those of you that do not know what an ISO file is you can find some background and a deep dive here, here, and here.

An ISO file is a file copy representation of the data as it would be read from a disc CD/DVD/Bluray. Think of it simply as a copy of a CD/DVD. This file can be used to burn another copy of the disk but more often used by mounting with software that presents the ISO file as a disk in a virtual disk drive. This drive and disc are seen by the operating system as a regular physical drive and disc.

This ripping of discs to files enabled a user to backup their software as well as transfer the software easily online. From niche to mainstream use came quickly as this virtual disc availed itself to the use by hypervisors in business data centers everywhere. This also enabled cheap, easy and fast distribution of software. From indie programmers to Microsoft. Most software you try or purchase today can be downloaded as an ISO directly from the vendor.

If you haven’t given Windows 8.1 a go, try it. I haven’t burst into flame yet.


Scott Bollinger / kfalconspb /

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