In Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, to mount an ISO disk image for installing software or recover backup files, you need to install a third-party utility. Now Microsoft has released a tool called Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel that will allow these older versions of Windows mount ISO files as virtual CD-ROM drives.
Update: As several commenters have noted below, this utility does not seem to work well with Windows 7 (at least the 64-bit version, maybe the 32-bit as well), and it's not worth the effort. Instead, use a different tool like Virtual CloneDrive, suggested by reader Marcus Mangelsdorf. Thanks for the feedback, everyone!
The free tool is a lightweight 60KB.
Note that Windows 8 natively supports mounting ISO files, so this utility isn't for Windows 8 users. I haven't been able to test this because my computer's running Windows 8, but if you give it a try, let us know what you think in the comments.
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