Microsoft is offering a free tool designed to streamline the creation of bootable Windows 7 RTM DVDs or USBs. Appropriately dubbed the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, the utility is available for download via the Microsoft Store at no cost. Customers that acquire a Windows 7 license online and download the RTM bits of the operating system themselves opting to get the platform packaged as an ISO file need to either create a bootable DVD or a bootable USB device in order to install the OS. This is where the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool comes into play.
With the utility, Windows 7 ISO file copies can be created on either a USB flash drive or a DVD. The tool will guide end users through the necessary steps, after which they will be able to install Windows 7 directly from the USB flash drive or the DVD media.
“The copy of the ISO file that the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool creates is bootable. Bootable media allows you to install Windows 7 without having to first run an existing operating system on your machine. If you change the boot order of drives in your computer's BIOS, you can run the Windows 7 installation directly from your USB flash drive or DVD when you turn on your computer,” Microsoft noted.
Obviously, users can turn to any DVD-burning solution in order to create a bootable DVD of Windows 7. But the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, although also supporting DVD scenarios, was in fact meant to help end users create bootable USBs. More and more portable computers, especially netbooks, come without a DVD drive, making it difficult for users to install a new operating system. Bootable Windows 7 USB flash devices can also be created manually, but the free tool offered by Microsoft simplifies the process as much as possible.
Microsoft even offered a small “Frequently Asked Questions” piece.
The following are some frequently asked questions about using the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool:
What size USB flash drive is required? You need a USB flash drive with a minimum of 4 GB of free space.
Can I use my newly created USB drive to install Windows 7 on someone else’s computer? No. The Windows 7 ISO file on the USB flash drive is only intended to be used to install Windows 7 on the licensed user’s own computer.
Can I backup to a CD-R? No. The Windows 7 ISO file is too large to fit on a CD.
Can I backup to a Blu-Ray DVD disk? Yes, as long as your DVD drive can write to a Blu-Ray DVD.
If I have other files on the USB flash drive will the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool delete them? This tool requires the USB flash drive to be completely blank before the Windows 7 files are copied. This helps ensure that the device is bootable after the copying has completed.
Can I backup to an iPod, camera, or other device with enough free disk space? Yes, but this is not recommended. The device must be formatted in order for the device to be bootable. A dedicated USB flash drive would be a better option.
Can I use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool to backup other files? No. This tool is only for use with the Windows 7 ISO file purchased from Microsoft Store.
The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool is available for download here.