What to Do After You Download ISO Files from Microsoft

Disc in disc drive of laptop computer

Software from the Microsoft Software Donation Program at TechSoup is only available as a download from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). The software is usually available as an ISO file unless you choose to purchase a media kit from Microsoft.

Here is how to get started on your installation.

Three Installation Options

An ISO file contains all the files and folders that are normally found on an installation DVD. Choose one of these three options to get access to the installation files:

  • Write the installation files to a DVD in order to create an installation disc
  • Mount the ISO file as a virtual device
  • Extract the installation files to your hard drive

Note: If you need to install a Get Genuine Windows Full PC Operating System instead of an upgrade to your current Windows operating system, you must write the installation files to a DVD. This rule also applies if you want to format your hard drive before you install a Windows upgrade operating system.

Installation Option: Create Installation Discs

If you plan to install software on multiple machines and you have access to at least one computer with a DVD writer, you can create an installation disc. Most Microsoft applications will not fit on a CD, so they require a DVD.

If your computer has a DVD writer (also called a DVD "burner") and Windows 7 or newer, double-click the ISO file that you downloaded. Next, follow the steps in the Image Burner Wizard.

After you burn the ISO file to a DVD, insert the DVD into your disc drive to begin the installation process. If you are installing a full Windows operating system, you should insert the DVD into your disc drive when you first turn on your computer.

Installation Option: Mount the ISO as a Virtual Device

If you plan to install the software on only one machine or don't have access to a DVD writer, you can "mount" the ISO file as a virtual device. A virtual device that is created by mounting an ISO file is known as a "virtual drive" or "virtual disk."

You cannot use this method to install an operating system, but you can use it to install applications like Office.

When you mount an ISO file as a virtual drive, it looks like a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc drive in Windows Explorer or the Computer folder. The contents of the drive are the files and folders that make up the ISO file.

If you use Windows 8 or newer, you do not need any additional software to mount an ISO file as a virtual drive. Right-click the ISO file and select Mount from the menu that appears. Next, open the "setup" or "setup.exe" file to install the software.

If you use Windows 7 or older, you will need to download additional software before you can mount an ISO file. Here are some mounting tools you can use:

Installation Option: Extract the Installation Files to Your Hard Drive

If you do not have a DVD writer, you can use file extraction software to extract the installation files to your hard drive. If you choose this option, you can also save the installation files to a USB drive to install the software on a computer that doesn't have a disk drive.

It's not recommended to use this method to install an operating system, but you can use it to install applications like Office.

You need additional software to extract an ISO file. Here are some file compression applications you can use:

Your application might use the word decompress rather than extract or unzip, but the result is the same.

After you extract the files to a new or empty folder, the folder will contain the same files that would be on an installation disc. Open the folder in Windows Explorer and double-click the file that is named "setup" or "setup.exe" to start the installation.

Read More

Instructions for downloading Microsoft software requested through TechSoup are available at Microsoft Download Help and the VLSC Downloads FAQ.

This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.