Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system was finally made available in the form of a Technical Preview last year, and this beta version has already seen millions of downloads since its release.

Now, yet another pre-release build is expected to be detailed during Microsoft's 21 January event, during which the Redmond-based company will also be making public various newer aspects (features) of the much-awaited operating platform.

This pre-release build, according to Gabriel Aul (head-honcho of Windows Insider Program), will be available to download in the form of an ISO image.

This means that users can resort to manually downloading the next Windows 10 beta-version as and when these are released.

Also, users whose computers run the current Windows 10 beta build can also update to the newest build automatically, as Gabrieal Aul points out that the next Windows 10 OS build will also be supplied via the Windows Update.

Another important factor to note at this point in time, is that the next Windows 10 build will not be the build number 9901 which surfaced late last year, according to a Tech Radar report.

Users eager to try out the newer official build should get a lot to cheer about, as manual downloading and clean installation of ISOs allow people to fully test out a particular build and gauge its adaptability over systems.

Automatic upgradation to newer OS build may not always be the preferred choice of people, especially the tech-savvy.

Windows 10 expected to be available to Windows 7/8 users directly

According to an official tweet by Microsoft's Insider head-honcho Gabriel Aul, Windows 7 and newer OSes support full upgrade installation paths, whereas users stuck on older Windows platforms will have to upgrade to the newest OS via Microsoft's standalone ISO.

Windows 10 free for Windows 8.1 users?

Along with providing direct upgrade paths, Windows 8 users [particularly those running the comparatively newer Windows 8.1] will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 free of cost, according to a Softpedia report.

The Softpedia report [quoting unnamed sources] states that users running Windows 7, which still drives nearly 50% of the world's computers, would have to pay a nominal sum to obtain and run Redmond's newest desktop OS.

However, those using XP and Vista would have to pay the entire cost of the Windows 10 software for an upgrade.

Features to check for in Windows 10 stable release

  • Cortana integration: According to a recent report, Cortana will be available to desktop users running Windows 10, in the form of an application.
  • Mini Start Menu: Considering the flak it received from users for eliminating the start button within Windows 8, Microsoft during its Build conference earlier in the year showcased a prototype of a new 'Mini Start Menu'. The prototype showcased floating Live Tiles in the Start Menu, which lets users access both metro-style and conventional (traditional Windows) apps.
  • Focus on desktop users: On desktops, the Windows 10 interface is expected to boot as default rather than letting users choose between the traditional Windows and metro-style user interfaces. Windows 10 will dynamically fit in the device, which it runs. Users on different Windows platforms should see the OS differently.