MobaLiveCD is a free stand-alone emulation tool that lets you run and test any Linux live CD ISO file and bootable USB devices directly in Windows, without CD burning or rebooting. This essentially means that you can run Linux live CDs in Windows without having to burn them to CD first and boot the computer from the CD afterwards. The application is based on the open-source QEMU emulator and can be run without any hard drive installation whatsoever.
How to use MobaLiveCD:
Download and run MobaLiveCD with admin rights. The application is a tiny 1.52 Mb exe file, so you can even carry it on a USB device.
To test a LiveCD, point the application to an ISO image on your hard drive, or if you have bootable USB device, directly select the drive to boot from. The application can also optionally add an entry in Windows context menu that enables you to launch any LiveCD ISO file using a right-click.
On initial launch, MobaLiveCD will ask if you would like to create a local hard disk image file. This is not required if you are running an ISO such as Linux LiveCD, but if you want to install an OS it is useful.
Once the LiveCD is launched, you will be inside a windowed Linux environment and can interact with the distribution normally. To regain access to the regular Windows environment press ‘Alt+Ctrl,’ or to toggle fullscreen on and off press ‘Alt+Ctrl+F.’
Once you are down with the testing, simply close the window and exit the application. It’s as simple as that.
So far it looks a perfect app, but emulation has its downside too. Compared with an actually booting from a LiveCD/USB, MobaLiveCD is significantly slower, and its also not possible to determine hardware compatibility of the OS. But if you keep those aspects in mind, MobaLiveCD is an absolute breeze to use, and allows you to rapidly check out new distributions with minimal hassle.