Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

Summary: Microsoft just helped make power users lives a lot easier with Windows 8!

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Oh happy day - Word from Redmond is that Windows 8 will support .ISO and .VHD files straight out of the box.

In a post by Rajeev Nagar, group program manager on Microsoft's storage and file systems team, explains how it works in a blog post over on Building Windows 8.

Note: In case you're unfamiliar with the file extensions, .ISO files are files that represent a digital copy of an optical disk,while .VHD files are virtual hard disks files as used by virtualization software Hyper-V or Virtual PC.

Handling .ISO files seems like a snap - select the file and choose Mount from the ribbon menu or right click and it appears as an optical drive.

While the .ISO is loaded as a virtual drive is acts and behaves just like a real CD/DVD drive. When you're done, you eject the virtual drive and it's gone.

Brilliant!

.VHD files are just as easy to use, although instead of appearing as virtual optical drives, these appear as hard drives.

Note: There is already support for .VHD files in Windows 7 but it is not this easy to use.

Unlike .ISO files, you can update, add and remove files contained in .VHD files.

I've got to say that I'm pretty jazzed about these new additions to Windows 8. I have a huge collection of (legally acquired) .ISO and .VHD files and not having to install third-party tools to handle them will make setting up new systems a lot easier.

While talking about .ISO and .VHD file handling, Microsoft also gives us a glimpse of the ribbonized UI of Windows Explorer on Windows 8 in this and an earlier post.

According to Microsoft, the commands on display in the new Ribbon make up 84% of what users do in Windows Explorer in one tab:

Also back is the 'Up one level' button on Windows Explorer:

Folder view and preview pane controls are now at the bottom-right of the screen:

Something that's new is the 'Media Servers' links (a;so notice the 'Podcasts" library ... my guess the test machine had Zune software installed and that this is NOT a default Windows 8 library):

Here are a few more for you:

And if you prefer keyboard shortcuts, well, here you go!

I like what I see!

Topics: Software, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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24 comments
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  • I only hope

    that as in Office and other Windows apps that use a ribbon, that one can minimize the ribbon to reclaim the screen space. I do like the way things are laid out.
    Michael Kelly
    • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

      @Michael Kelly The ribbon is context-away. You will only see a ribbon when you are doing something that requires the ribbon. And you will only see the ribbon choices, relevant to the task at hand.
      Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

        @facebook@...

        But I may not want to do any of those tasks at hand. I may just want to poke around or open a file. In which case I want the ribbon minimized so I can have a fuller window.
        Michael Kelly
    • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

      @Michael Kelly

      There is a group policy on Windows 8 (build 7899), that will let you disable the explorer ribbon completely.
      sjaak327
      • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

        @sjaak327

        Nice to know. But that's not what I want. I just want it minimized so it is out of the way unless I want to use it.
        Michael Kelly
      • Group Policy is not in all editions

        @sjaak327 Even if you could turn it off in Group Policy, you will need either Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate edition to do this. If you don't like seeing it, you can easily at your favorite commands to the QAT and press CTRL + F1 to hide the Ribbon.
        adacosta38
    • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

      @Michael Kelly

      The Ribbon here, like it's brothers, is fully minimizable. :)
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Nice work Microsoft

    This is ridiculous :)
    Windows 7 makes its backup in VHD at the moment.
    ISO is something from the past and mounting it is like a feature I am using for 15 years :)

    This UI looks like something from the 20th century ... ugly and totally messed up. Keep up the good work Microsoft and one day not only HP will be dead. We would be stuck with this stuff forever, but there is an Apple for everyone :)
    BeckoBG
    • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

      @BeckoBG

      Maybe that arrow near the "Help Button" hide the Ribbon. I also think that it's a bit excesive have all that UI for something as simple as a file explorer.
      RenzoAC
    • It appears Win 8 ...

      @BeckoBG,

      ...... will have both a new touch UI which was shown at the All Things Digital D9 conference earlier this year, as well an improved version of the traditional Windows GUI. Business almost certainly will adopt the new touch UI of Win 8 slooooowly - that's how they operate. All these GUI based features are primarily for them, as well as power users, and users who have to use older Windows GUI programs. Consumers however are expected to adopt the touch UI rather quickly. Therefore Win 8 has stuff for those who like or have to do things the old way, as well as stuff for those who want to do the things the new way. The stuff that I?m seeing looks fantastic!
      P. Douglas
  • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

    ISO support will be good for someone like me who likes to play some of the older games. Diablo, its on. The new Microsoft Windows Explorer looks nice as well. The ribbon has already proven itself worthy in the Office products so this should be no different.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
  • Why so happy?

    ZDNET seems to think these changes are of great value ...
    ... I must actually have reached the status of a power user ... because I regard them as useful but merely cosmetic user interface improvements.

    Wake me up when you have something to report about data security (a la ZFS) or cloud backup (a la symform).

    This is so Windows 98!
    jacksonjohn
    • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

      @johnfenjackson@... If you care about Data security, you've well exceeded power user my friend. Chances are, everybody reading ZDNet are at the very very least, power users.
      Aerowind
  • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

    Native vhd support isn't new, as it was already introduced and being used in win7/2008r2. I do love the explorer ribbon by the way.
    sjaak327
    • But it was not intuitive

      @sjaak327 You had to go through Disk Management and attach from the Attach menu. Not easily discoverable.
      adacosta38
      • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

        @adacosta38

        True, this makes it a bit easier, even though doing it through disk management is pretty easy as well.
        sjaak327
  • One other thing missing from Windows Explorer

    Tabs. Sometimes I want to have two or more folders opened to drag and drop between them, or because I need files in multiple folders. And doing it with tabs would be much cleaner and quicker than doing it with separate windows, especially given that the taskbar defaults to grouping windows which makes it harder to select the correct one. Dolphin in KDE handles this nicely.

    Speaking of Dolphin, it would also be nice if Windows Explorer could open a PowerShell Window along the bottom of the screen as an option. Sometimes robocopy does a task better than a drag and drop, and this would be a convenient way to do a execute a line command.
    Michael Kelly
  • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

    The top-right "^" hides the ribbon, just like in Office 2010.
    beranger
  • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

    @adacosta38, local policies are in all editions are they not ? Group policy is the domain equivalent of local policies.
    sjaak327
  • RE: Windows 8 to support .ISO and .VHD files (plus a peek at the Windows Explorer UI!)

    Make them stop please. First off it's too cluttered. Second off it's not needed. But most importantly hopefully there is a way to revert back to the text menu. This is a mess and horrible design. Ribbon is ugly and frankly not even touch friendly. The design of the windows themselves are fug. They need to either have chrome or take out the chrome. They are having it all ways here. But most of all ribbon sucks. It's complex and not in a good way. In explorer all anyone ever does does not even take up more than 10 actions. What the heck is with all this clutter. It's been 15 years or so and instead of moving into the future they are moving back to the pass with all the clutter.

    Just make it simple and user-friendly. Not cluttered and difficult to use.

    All they need to do is build in a search in the help section of a program that points you to the menu item that relates to the issue like in mac and it'll be fine. No need for all this mess. It's ugly. Where are the designers?! Julie Larson-Green should not be leading the windows experience. She needs to be gone and let someone with vision and real ideas to step up.
    vieya