I have some old educational kids games that the kids still use. The stupid thing about these games is that they require the CD to be in the drive in order for them to run. Not a bad idea back in the days with small hard drives, but a royal PITA nowadays. Microsoft developers have created some extensions to Windows to help solve this problem.
The first is called ISO Recorder (referenced from this Microsoft article). It adds the ability to copy a CD to an ISO image (a file) on your hard drive. It's a very simple extension, and much more lightweight than installing something like Nero. There's a short tutorial that explains how to use it.
The next one is called Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel for Windows XP (referenced from this Microsoft Article). It allows you to "mount" an ISO image file and have Windows pretend it is a CD in a drive. I tried it on two ISO images. It mounted the one just fine, but locked up on the other one. I ended up installing & using Daemon Tools instead. It does the same thing, but is much larger & wants to install adware to help support the project, so be careful.
Finally, I had to reinstall the games from the ISO images so that the games knew to look at the "new drives" instead of the actual CD drive. There may be a way to update the configuration instead of reinstalling, but reinstalling from the ISO images is pretty fast anyway.
Hopefully somebody else will find this to be helpful.