This free, open-source utility is one of the best ways to create ISO files. There are many, many programs that create ISO files, including Windows. However, IMGBurn creates the rock-solid ISO files that work every time. Other programs ISO files have trouble booting in hypervisors. IMGBurn does not have this problem. Easy to use, all of your CD's and DVD's should be converted to ISO and stored on the network.
This oldy but goody free utility is a must have for all desktops. While Windows has ability to create and extract .ZIP files only. WinZip supports .ZIP and it's proprietary format only. 7-Zip supports ALL compression formats, including: ACE, RAR, ISO, ZIP, etc.
TechNet Virtual Labs
Microsoft's TechNet Virtual Labs is a powerful online environment that enables testing of new Microsoft products and technologies. Virtual Labs will walk you through, step-by-step, navigating multiple VM's to accomplish a complex technical task. It also explains each step using clear, simple terminology to help you learn quickly and efficiently.
A great thing to have onhand is Ubuntu Desktop OS on a USB stick. Especially since USB sticks are priced at an all time low. For example, on a corporate laptop equipped with full-disk encryption, offline network policy enforcement, user access inside Windows, and a highly customized desktop experience removing ability to right-click, view options, or see the Control Panel. Fortunately, promptly hitting F10 at boot time allows access into boot options, select USB, test Ubuntu, enable Multi-verse libraries, enable VLC Player and watch movies. Bypassing all the corporate security and allowing us to actually use the laptop hardware. You can also use it to recover files from a damaged Windows machine.
GNS3 is a free, open-source tool for testing network configurations, proposed changes, or preparing for Cisco certification. GNS3 uses a combination of technologies to produce a testing environment - VirtualBox, Dynamips, and Qemu. The difficult part is acquiring IOS image files as Cisco limits downloads now to SmartNet contracts, e.g. if you own the device you can access the respective IOS or NX-OS files. GNS uses the files to virtualize the network devices.