If you have a PC you use optical media - CD's and DVD's mostly - usually for reading information. We purchase a new piece of software and there is a CD or DVD in the package that we drop into our PC's and load up our operating systems, games, and application software.
Now and then, some of us even burn data and information off to optical media storage. About once a month I burn all of my digital pictures off to DVD and drop them in a safe. I do the same with other important data. Optical media has some distinct advantages over traditional magnetic tape media. You don't have to worry about a magnet or electrical field wiping out archived data. Once data is burned to a CD/DVD it stays there indefinitely. CD/DVD's have near universal compatibility so you can restore data on just about any machine where tapes are less compatible.
Vista introduces some new features for using optical media that I am going to discuss in a webcast this morning. The webcast is called Optical Media in Windows Vista and you can register and get more information for it here. In the webcast we will look at the new UI for backing up and restoring using the built-in Windows Backup mechanism, dig into the Universal Disc Format (UDF), and wrap up with a brief discussion of IMAPI - the Image Mastering API that allows us to read, create, mount and burn ISO and other file formats.
I know it is a little late, but hope to see you on the webcast!