No, Pirates Can’t Upgrade To Windows 10 For Free

There’s been a lot of confusion about Windows 10 recently: first Microsoft said it would be a free upgrade. Then, it suggested even pirates could upgrade to genuine versions of Windows. That’s not actually true.

Microsoft’s Terry Myerson took to the Windows blog to try and clear things up. Here’s the deal: if Windows can’t verify that your PC is running a version of Windows without a genuine license, your desktop will be marred with a watermark, warning you of your PC’s unofficial state. “Non-Genuine Windows has a high risk of malware, fraud, public exposure of your personal information and a higher risk for poor performance and feature malfunctions,” Myerson writes. “Non-Genuine Windows is not supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner.”

There you have it: pirated versions of Windows are not supported by Microsoft—which means no free upgrade for you, sneaky pete. You might still get a break though: Myerson says that devices from certain OEM partners may qualify for special “attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers,” so upgrading won’t be free, but it might be cheap. [Microsoft]

Windows 10 Upgrades Will Be Free—Even For Pirated Copies

Microsoft has announced that it will give be giving free upgrades of Windows 10 to anyone who uses Windows right now—even if they're currently running pirated copies of the operating system.

Speaking to Reuters, Microsoft's operating system chief Terry Myerson explained from China that Microsoft will be "upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10." (It's not yet exactly clear as to what counts as "qualified"; we've reached out to Microsoft to find out.) The move is apparently an attempt to "re-engage" users that currently run pirated software in China. Illegal version of Windows are a huge problem there: recent estimates suggest that 75 percent of PCs in the country run pirated copies of the OS.

Update: There are conflicting reports online about whether the free upgrade will be limited to China or not. We're still waiting for Microsoft to get back to us to confirm exactly what the deal is.

Update 2: We've not heard back from Microsoft yet, but The Verge has—and it's good news for any pirate out there, wherever you are. In a statement issued to them, Microsoft explained that "[a]nyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Windows 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows. We believe customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies."

Microsoft has already announced that upgrades to Windows 10 will be free for the first year, aligning with the Apple strategy of making the OS essentially a free product. To bring everyone in line, it makes sense to offer the same upgrade to pirated copies—even if it does feel a little like rewarding bad behaviour. We found out yesterday that Windows 10 will be available this summer.

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[Reuters on Re/code]

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