"I know of no way to install Ubuntu, Linuxmint, etc.. other than to burn their install-cd and booting it up"
There are plenty of ways to install and run linux. Both of those offer what is called a wubi install. You install it from windows. Some people love it. Odd systems will have issues.
You can install over the network by many means.
You can make a live usb installer. Some installs work fine even using the ISO image on a usb with things like grub4dos.
You can install a free VM and run linux at the same time as windows.
Here is a guide if you are running a ssd. Some green drives need other tweaks. http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/fo...ux-using-fdisk