I’ve been reading about it for some time now on TenForums.com, but I finally decided to visit the MS TechBench site over the weekend.
For those who don’t want to use the MS Media Creation Tool (and I’ll explain some reasons why later in this post), this online resource provides download access to the following x86 and x64 versions of Windows 10:
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+ Windows 10
+ Windows 10 KN (Korea, no Media Player, Music, Video, Voice Recorder or Skype)
+ Windows 10 N (Europe, ditto above)
+ Windows 10 Single Language
There’s also a set of documentation to explain how the environment works, as well as the ISO files for the various Windows 10 versions one might wish to grab. Alas, once you’ve chosen a particular version from some particular PC, that’s the only version you’ll be able to see as long as the cookie for the TechBench page remains present. I was able to work through the options and selections by logging in from different browsers and PCs, but you’ll want to be aware of this restriction.
Why Might Somebody Want a Windows 10 ISO?
There are several reasons for this, including wanting to be able to access the .wim file that the ISO includes (I spoke to a Windows-head over the weekend who maintains a current .wim by using DISM to add packages to that image for each new Windows update, to make sure he can always patch his running image using the /restorehealth option in DISM and that patched image for the /sources parameter), the ability to use Rufus or some other third-party tool to create a bootable installer USB flash drive, or the desire to customize the image to be installed before actually performing the installation (many tools are available to operate on .wim files, including DISM; I can’t find any other than DISM that offer even minimal abilities to do likewise to .esd files).
So, if you need a windows image file (.wim) for Windows 10, TechBench is the place to go to get one (though you can also get them at MSDN if you’ve got a subscription with download rights to that file repository). One more thing: if you’d like to convert an .esd file to a .wim file (or vice-versa), the free Wim Converter utility from Winreducer.net is up to the task. Lots of ways to get around this .esd-vs-.wim situation, as it turns out…
[Note added 8/19/2016: TechBench has been closed down since just before the Anniversary Update came out on August 2. These days, the place to grab a current Windows 10 ISO file is from the Download Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO File) page in the Microsoft Software Download pages. I’m not sure why this has changed, but it looks like TechBench is no longer around.]