MSDN, ISOs, and SQL Server Hotfixes
October 28th, 200713
MSDN, ISOs, and SQL Server Hotfixes
October 28th, 200713

Ok, this may be a bit off-topic, but I'm getting really annoyed that so many products are being offered only as ISO images.  Why is it that I can set up a virtual machine or boot camp operating system running Vista without any problems, but in order to install SQL Server Developer Edition (if I don't have the DVD handy, of course, which is often the case when I am on traveling), I need to find some third party ISO utility.  I used to be able to use WinImage (free), but for some reason, Microsoft changed the file format so that it can no longer extract anything beyond the root folder.  🙁

Why can't these products be offered as self-extracting ZIPs/EXEs?  Yes, I know most people have learned by now to have an ISO utility, but do you really license it on every virtual machine you build, on every piece of hardware you own?  Other distributions are handled this way, for example SQL Server Hotfixes.  Which is another thing that bit me recently, because the patch I received for cumulative update 4 was password protected with an expiration of 7 days.  This means that I can download the EXE as many times as I want, but I can't extract any of the files because my password expired more than 7 days ago.  So, I have to wait to apply 3200 to this system until I can get on another machine that already has the patch extracted.

I am liking my MacBook Pro more and more, and liking Windows less and less.  I installed Leopard on Friday (a good six hours before anyone could buy it in a store =)) and am amazed at how easy it was.  Even building a boot camp partition to install Vista was a five minute process, with no 3rd party software required to install the OS or to allocate any size chunk of the existing partition that I desired.  (To keep this kind of on topic, the only reason I need Vista on this laptop is so that I can do some SQL Server work.)  No, my troubles only began once I had installed Vista.  Of course it couldn't find the wireless adapter and other essential hardware until I had installed the additional drivers supplied by Apple.  But then I had this problem with the ISO mentioned above, and also cannot seem to get IE7 to authenticate on my company's outlook web access server, and when I sign in to MSDN I get sent to a completely blank /Error.aspx page.  I have to do all of these things using FireFox, which doesn't work quite as well (and which threw me for a curve when I had to install the File Transfer Manager, another thorn in my side).  On the other hand, at least FireFox has a good FTP plug-in (FireFTP) which isn't crippled and half-functional like Windows Explorer (which used to work quite well).  Next I downloaded a trial of Systems Center Operations Manager 2007, and it let me get WAY too far into the install process before telling me that Vista was not a supported operating system and that Active Directory was required.  I'll take the blame on that one for not reading the requirements beforehand, but is there a good reason for these limitations?  I need to have a 4-year old server operating system on my laptop or workstation to try this product out?  And I need Active Directory even if I do not plan to manage AD with SCOM?

Is Microsoft going out of their way to demonstrate that other companies can consistently produce more usable and user-friendly products than they can?  The question is somewhat rhetorical, since they have always been doing that, but it seems the current state of affairs is that they are getting worse, or the others are getting better, or more likely, a combination of the two.

So now I just need to find a capable (preferably not web-based) SQL Server management tool that will run on OS X.5.  🙂

By: Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, write at Simple Talk, SQLPerformance, and MSSQLTips, and have had the honor of speaking at more conferences than I can remember. In non-tech life, I am a husband, a father of two, a huge hockey and football fan, and my pronouns are he/him.

13 Responses

  1. Ronny Ong says:

    First, I would point out that Microsoft has posted documents in Adobe PDF format for many years but until recently, you had to use 3rd party software to view Microsoft's PDF files.
    Next, everybody needs to note that Daemon Tools is only free FOR PERSONAL USE. If you are using this product while performing any type of "work" where you get paid, it is not free. Also, even if you're only using it at home or school, all recent "free" versions include adware (WhenU). In fact, all releases since the first Vista-compatible version 4.091 have bundled some form of spyware/adware.
    Daemon Tools is heavily oriented toward the gamer crowd with its ability to support disk images containing copy protection schemes which are only common today in games. This slant has historically caused Daemon Tools to conflict with various Windows updates  such as SP1 for WS2003 and later with Vista upgrades. These particular conflicts have been fixed now, but they illustrate how fragile your system configuration can be with Daemon Tools.
    However, there are alternatives that are truly free (even for commercial use), spyware-free, and less fragile for non-gaming users. Microsoft's Virtual CD has been mentioned but it won't work in Vista. I like MagicDisc from
    because it has not only been Vista-compatible for a while but also comes in an x64 version. If you're strictly 32-bit, you might prefer Virtual Clone Drive which was recently updated to support Vista (version
    The little-publicized NeroDrive feature is essentially free to you if you already have any version of Nero released in the last few years. This is yet another ISO mounting tool which many people have installed but don't realize it. (Note that it may not be included in "OEM" copies of Nero bundled with hardware, only in the full retail SKUs).

  2. Piotr Rodak says:

    I am using daemon tools, an outstanding utility to mount ISO images as drives.

  3. 8string says:

    Just took a look at aquafold, and it has a Mac version as well. Seems like a pretty cool tool, and it will also manage any ol db, like MySQL if needed (useful for setting up a local copy of WordPress, for example). I also just have been using a MacBook Pro, loaded w/OSX.5 (aka Leopard), and have  loaded Parallels to run XP, which amazingly enough, seems to run faster in the VM than I've ever seen it run on my relatively new Desktop Dell in natively. But this is all off topic….

  4. santa clara says:

    Can Windows PE mount an iso ??? ….I don't think so

  5. David Markle says:

    The real question here is, how come the OS itself can't mount an ISO??!?  What the??!  There's a feature that missed the Vista that would have been ACTUALLY useful.

  6. roman says:

    I tried the utility Denis posted and even though it is supposed to be for Windows XP only, it actually works on Windows Server 2003. I feel about ISOs the same way you do but it seems that with this utility it will be easier to deal with them.

  7. Raj K says:

    I actually prefer iso files. I do not need to wait for a zip or exe to extract the contents. I mount my iso using the tool provided by Microsoft (posted by Denis above) and I am ready to go.
    The other big advantage of ISOs is that Virtual PC has the ability to mount an ISO as a disk.

  8. Peter says:

    You could try using 7-zip ( ) which can extract files from ISOs.

  9. Denis Gobo says:

    BTW, WinRar will also decompress the ISO files

  10. AaronBertrand says:

    Adam: sure, there are a ton of tools out there that can do this.  But it seems unnecessary to make us all go out and get any of a variety of tools just to extract a file.  Why doesn't Microsoft provide a power tool that will do the bare necessity?  Or heaven forbid, follow the pattern with ZIP, and include the functionality in the operating system?
    Matt: thanks, no I had not seen that product before.

  11. Matt says:

    Have you tried I have not used it for a few years, but it was nice when I had to use SQL and Oracle.

  12. cinahcaM madA says:

    Free CD/DVD emulator here: