Microsoft’s free Windows USB/DVD Download Tool will convert a Windows Setup ISO file into a bootable Setup USB drive or DVD disc. As such, it is a vital and important tool to have handy at all times.
What: Windows USB/DVD Download Tool (also known as Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, though it’s not limited to Windows 7)
Why: If you download a Setup Media ISO from Microsoft as I advised recently in Clean PC: Download Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Setup Media Legally and intend to clean install Windows on your PC, you will need this tool.
Why you might not need this: If you’re installing any version of Windows to a virtual machine in Hyper-V or similar, you can just use the raw ISO file.
How it works: Couldn’t be easier. Run the wizard-like application, choose the ISO file you need to convert into bootable media and then choose between USB or DVD media. If you choose USB, you will almost certainly need to erase it first, so make sure there’s nothing important on there.
An alternative to consider: You should keep a second similar tool in your toolbox too. Rufus is also free and it can be used to create bootable USB drives only. But it’s also more configurable than the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool and can be used to create the special kind of bootable USB drive that is required for the 32-bit “compressed OS” versions of Windows I wrote about in Windows 10 Technical Preview 2: The Mini-Tablet Experience. I will explain that further in a future article, but for now just keep Rufus handy too.