Microsoft will fight Windows 10 piracy by giving it away this summer (update)

Windows 10 Tencent

UPDATE: Microsoft backtracks giving away Windows 10 to pirates. For more info, read the expanded update at the bottom of this post.

Microsoft announced today that Windows 10 will be available this summer across 190 different countries. The company did not provide a more specific date but we expect they will as summer approaches.

Microsoft surprised by announcing Windows 10 would be a free upgrade for current Windows 7 or 8.1 users. The offer will be available for one year, but we don’t know how much Microsoft will charge for the upgrade after the one year window.

Today, the company surprised us even more by announcing the free Windows 10 update will be available to both “genuine and non-genuine” copies of Windows 7 and 8.1. Piracy has been a long standing problem with Windows and Microsoft has tried many things to prevent piracy, none of which have worked.

“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,” says Microsoft’s Windows chief Terry Myerson speaking with Reuters. The company even made Office free to use on phones and tablets. Microsoft really wants to win users over by building their products better than the competition.

Outlook for iOS

To that end, Microsoft is also tackling one of the biggest issues plaguing Windows: its size. Windows has always been a huge operating system as Microsoft has a good history of legacy support for older hardware and software. With Windows 10, the operating system will shed 6.6GB, making it not only smaller but quicker to install. Microsoft put Windows 10 on a diet by using disk compression to reduce system file and app sizes, without impacting performance.

The slimmed down Windows 10 also includes the added benefit of restoring your PC to a “clean” state with a revamped “refresh and reset” setting. The updated PC refresh feature restores your PC back to a completely clean operating system without needing to patch the system with updates afterward. The feature will no longer require a separate recovery image, often preinstalled by manufacturers, which means you can reset a PC out of the box to get rid of any manufactured preinstalled apps (aka bloatware).

UPDATE 3/19/15: More than a day later, Microsoft released an official statement about pirated copies of Windows and if they can be updated to Windows 10. While Myerson’s statement implies pirated copies would be able to upgrade to a full, genuine copy of Windows 10, the official statement says something different. Here’s what it says.

The consumer free upgrade offer for Windows 10 applies to qualified new and existing devices running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1. Some editions are excluded from the consumer free upgrade—including Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to other Windows 10 enterprise offerings.

We have always been committed to ensuring that customers have the best Windows experience possible. With Windows 10, although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license. Non-Genuine Windows is not published by Microsoft. It is not properly licensed, or supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner. If a device was considered non-genuine or mislicensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mislicensed after the upgrade. According to industry experts, use of pirated software, including Non-Genuine Windows, results in a higher risk of malware, fraud (identity theft, credit card theft, etc), public exposure of your personal information, and a higher risk for poor performance or feature malfunctions.

The ambiguity and confusion arises from this sentence: “If a device was considered non-genuine or mislicensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mislicensed after the upgrade.” What does it mean to have a non-genuine copy of Windows? Does this mean trial versions of Windows  7 or 8.1 can be upgraded to Windows 10 to be “genuine” copies?

Ars Technica followed up with Microsoft and only received this vague reply: “We don’t have anything further to share outside of the statement at the moment.”

If Microsoft wants everyone to be united under Windows 10, it would be in its best interest to give pirates a genuine copy of Windows 10 and to win them over with killer apps and services. By offering a free copy of Windows to everyone, including pirates, Microsoft can ensure the security of its operating system by providing updates to all computers running Windows 10. Blocking out pirates will not break the cycle of Windows piracy since there will always be ways to get non-genuine copies of Windows.

UPDATE 5/18/15: Microsoft is backtracking on its promise to allow pirated copies of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Windows chief Terry Myerson originally stated that pirated versions of Windows were eligible for free upgrades to Windows 10 but company representatives quickly qualified that promise with an ambiguous statement. Now the company has flat out stated that pirates will have to pay, but there will be some “very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers” pirate users can look forward to.

Sorry pirates! No free Windows 10 for you.

Source: Windows Blog

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