I am sure this has come up, but I didn't see a thread. My laptop did not come with a CD player. are there any options to download the software or is it possible or even legal to copy the CD to a thumb drive and install it?
There is no place to download it. If you bought the CD/DVD there is no reason why you can't legally copy it to a thumb drive or USB drive for install. This has been brought up before. It doesn't have physical copy protection. You will need the serial numbers of the CD and your controller/interface to register and make it work. I would in fact suggest you make a backup copy of your disc in case it is ever lost or damaged.
You can also create an image of it and load it using a virtual drive.