Vista Annoyance: Virtual CD/DVD emulators and ISO images

by Bharat Suneja

It seems the whole world has moved to downloadable software images in ISO formats – whether it be puny (by today’s standards) CD images of 650/700 MB or larger chunks of code that requires a DVD – a lot of the software we download today is in the form of ISO images that otherwise requires burning the image on a CD or DVD before it can be used.

On Windows XP, there were a number of free utilities, including a Microsoft PowerToy called Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel (the cool-product-naming-dept at work again? :), that let you mount ISO images as virtual drives. Once mounted, the image shows up as a CD/DVD drive in Windows Explorer and is usable as such.

Virtual Clone Drive (VCD), a free and well-written utility, is one of them. There are others – like MagicISO (full version is about 30 bucks.. ), and Daemon Tools – the latter led me (finally) to VCD back in the Windows XP days.

However, none of the above seem to work with Windows Vista, or get past Vista’s installer warnings. I tried the current versions of Daemon Tools and Virtual Clone Drive – both resulted in warnings from Vista that they aren’t compatible with this version of Windows. Web sites for some of these utilities claim they are, and I don’t necessarily doubt that – but after a few reckless deep dives with the blue-screen goodness, I am not for any more of such experiences. The BSOD is something I haven’t had the pleasure of working with a lot since the Windows NT and partly through the Windows 2000 days. (The only good part in all of this is my new-found appreciation for Vista’s effortless recovery capabilities… ).

Microsoft’s own utility mentioned above could not be found on the Microsoft web site – I was able to locate a download link that leads to – but the utility doesn’t work with Windows Vista. It’s not listed on the Windows XP Power Toys page either, nor does searching for it return anything on Microsoft’s web site.

I find it intriguing why such a utility wasn’t made part of this brand new next-generation operating system that’s supposed to vow you with what it can do! Why can’t I right-click on an ISO image and mount it from within Windows Explorer, without having to install some third-party or Microsoft utility, that Vista doesn’t want to trust or accept compatibility with?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin May 7, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Daemon Tools works.
Grab the SPTD from, reboot, then go grab Daemon Tools and install.
Fire me an email if you can’t get it working. =)


Anonymous May 10, 2007 at 4:21 am

I just grab winrar from and unpack the ISO to its component folders. If you’re not booting from it or burning it there’s little need to browse it as a virtual volume.


Bharat Suneja May 10, 2007 at 11:27 am

Yes, WinRAR and other such utilities that can open ISO images and expand them do work well if you want to expand the content to the hard drive.

However, even WinRAR is a third-party utility, and though it continues to work even if unregistered, it continues to nag till you register it.

I find the ability to be able to mount an ISO – and the utilities that offer these – much easier to work with – by simply double-clicking an ISO image it can be mounted as a drive. A lot of software has autorun features that bring up an installer GUI of some kind – which doesn’t work as well if you expand the content to the hard drive.

Finally, if I already have the ISO image on a drive, it doesn’t make as much sense to expand it to the file system as well – now it consumes double the space. :)



Anonymous May 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm

What a shame this ‘next gen’ OS cannot mount ISO images natively like OSX or linux have been doing for years.

since daemon tools and their ilk usually install a rootkit, i’m going to go out on a limb that the new Vista security model will not support this….

Real world motivation for MS to not allow: these programs are typically used to evade drm/copy protection, so I guess they see this as a way to prevent piracy (albeit a poor way)


Devrim Aslan May 22, 2007 at 6:01 am

Did nothing but download and install Daemon Tools :)
It worked fine for an iso image, but have not tested it further more.


Anonymous May 22, 2007 at 6:11 am

Yeah. Daemon tools works in vista;).. there’s a article that I think it will be usefull for U.It’s titled:
“Windows Vista 32bits and unexported kernel symbols” and it’s link is


Anonymous May 22, 2007 at 11:43 am

Actually Virtual Clone Drive works quite well under Vista. You just have to ignore the warnings you get when it installs:


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