It's not often we see a Microsoft official publicly writing about ripping music and DVDs to their "collection".
But a recent blog post from the Windows 8 engineering team shows that even Microsoft is acknowledging how widespread the practice is. And when Windows 8 arrives, it will include the ability to mount ISO files and access the contents, like music and video, or run programs, without using third party utilities like Daemon Tools.
In Windows 8 you'll be able to do this by right clicking or double clicking the ISO file. As Microsoft's Rajeev Nagar explains: "a new drive letter appears, indicating that the contents are now readily accessible. Underneath the covers, Windows seamlessly creates a “virtual” CDROM or DVD drive for you on-the-fly so you can access your data."
Viewing the contents of an ISO, mounted as a virtual drive in Windows 8
What's interesting is the way Microsoft is linking their decision to include this feature to a general trend away from optical discs. Far from encouraging this is an enthusiast level operation recommended for special circumstances, Nagar seems to be saying it’s the way forward for home users.
"Personally, 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," his blog post states. "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. Just a couple of years ago that was an unimaginable amount of storage. These days, however, I know I can buy a 3TB hard disk for less than $200."
"Given cheap hard disks and our mobile lifestyle, we have little interest in carting around collections of discs," Nagar states.
It's an interesting admission, especially given laptops without DVD or CD drives - like cheap netbooks and Apple's thin MacBook Air.
Apple has also recently starting selling its new OS X Lion update via the Internet, instead of in boxed discs. It's also not hard to imagine DVDs giving way to video on demand in the future, but it's not something that's happened yet.
Ominous signs for the DVD, but it's not dead yet.
Also read: How to create your own OS install disc