Microsoft Corp. is expected to offer a free download of Windows 10 to computer enthusiasts and IT professionals at 12 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. The new operating system is Microsoft’s answer to critics of its touch-centric 2012 release, Windows 8.

The software giant has so far said only that it will open registration for the Windows 10 Technical Preview “soon,” but Microsoft often releases technical previews at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) – the start of the business day at the company’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

There's a lot riding on the release of Windows 10 for Microsoft following poor reception to Windows 8. Microsoft attempted to bridge tablets and PCs with a unified interface in Windows 8, but instead was criticized for features that worked well with a touchscreen but not a keyboard and mouse, and others that were hard to manage with a tablet. In fact, the new naming convention – which leapfrogs Windows 9 entirely – shows how much Microsoft wanted to distance Windows 10 from its last operating system.

The Windows 10 technical preview will be available for download on Microsoft’s Windows site sometime Wednesday. The company recommends that only expert computer users and IT professionals download the preview, and that they install it on a secondary computer. The download will likely be open only to current Windows users running a PC with compatible hardware.

Microsoft warns that Windows 10 contains a number of bugs, since it is still under development. However, Microsoft’s head of operating systems, Joe Belfiore, promises the company will quickly update Windows 10 to get it ready for a release sometime next year.

Any readers planning on installing the Windows 10 Technical Preview? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.