This week Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would launch this summer, and that it would be a free update for just about anyone running Windows 7 or later… including folks running unlicensed versions of Windows.

If that sounded too good to be true, well it’s not. Microsoft really will let folks running pirated copies of Windows upgrade to Windows 10. What they won’t do is provide a valid license key: unlicensed versions of Windows will remain unlicensed even after the update.

win10 start

In Microsoft speak, “although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the state of the license.”

In other words you can upgrade your pirated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10, but it’ll still be a pirated copy of the operating system. Microsoft says that could lead to poor performance, non-working features, or a higher risk of malware or fraud.

But by allowing even folks running pirated copies of Windows to update, Microsoft will probably get more people to upgrade to the latest version of its operating system more quickly. Expanding the user base is good for Microsoft since it increases the number of people familiar with the latest user interface as well as other Microsoft apps and services that will be built into the operating system (although I suspect some features may not work properly without a valid license key).

via Ars Technica and Beta News

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19 replies on “Microsoft: About that free Windows 10 upgrade for pirates…”

  1. The more users in the app ecosystem, the more money Microsoft will get from their cut. Six of one half dozen of the other.

  2. Windows for Home should be free and they should capitalize on this user base with their App Store and Enterprise Products. Selling OS is a zombie model. Google broke the ice with Android and there is still time for Microsoft to wake up and embrace the new mantra before they become irrelevant.

    You might think MS still holds its ground with desktop computing but its a matter of perspective more than anything else. Macs are selling more than ever while PC market is shrinking! Thats a tell tale sign if you ask me. Microsoft shouldn’t wait until Android transcends into the desktop space. Android can and it will. Its just a matter of time.

    1. Macs are PCs. Comparing macs to all other manufacturers is misleading, all that means is that they’re doing better than average. Sure, that’s better than being worse than average, but it doesn’t mean they’re the best, nor does it mean they’re going to become most popular. Indeed, I remember seeing a stat showing that the top 5 pc manufacturers were growing more than apple. And macos share is still way behind windows, sorry. Windows continues to do just fine (unlike the situation with tablets, where the decline in the market is solely due to apple’s sales falling off a cliff).

      1. Its not about numbers but trends. If you are not growing… you are shrinking. There are many viable alternatives today for the average Joe. Chromebook is another trend. And then there is steady growth of Mac. There was a time when anything other than Windows meant losing out on available software options but today Browser and Web Apps have mostly eclipsed that need. That’s exactly when Windows started becoming irrelevant. And today which OS has the maximum options? iOS and Android! Android in particular has everything we would ever need and is open source… Great Browsers, Office & Productivity Apps (Free and Cloud enabled), Media Players, and a zillion other apps. Wait till it crosses and you wont be surprised. Its just obvious.

  3. It doesn’t really seem like they’re ‘allowing’ pirated users to upgrade. It seems like nothing actually changed at all.

  4. My guess is they most want people from Windows7 to upgrade because of the Microsoft Store and apps universe. Simple long-tail business model. Also Win10, like Win8 is heavily tied to your Microsoft ID, unlike Win7.

    1. You don’t have to tie Windows 10 to a Microsoft account. You can use a local account and it’ll be just like the accounts in Windows 7. The option is somewhat hidden, but still quite easy to do, even after already linking it to a Microsoft account. I run Windows 10 and have a local account not linked to a Microsoft account. The only feature I’m aware of not working is Cortana. I was excited to try it (her?) but only out of interest. I’m sure I would rarely use the feature were it available. I still get your point though. I clearly didn’t want my desktop OS tied to an online account, hence the local account.

  5. This isn’t new. Windows 7 without a valid license key wiorks,
    except that Windows will keep bugging you that it is an unlicensed
    copy, and that it is not genuine, and that you may be a victim of
    software piracy. Windows 8 has an even nastier
    habit, it will try to update, then it will freeze on the Start Page.
    Restarting brings up the same frozen Start Page.

    Maybe there are dirty tricks MS isn’t telling people about.

  6. They may not license them but I’ll bet they will count them and include them in deployment/usage statistics.

  7. and there’s the “Catch” ive been saying to myself since yesterday that there had to be a catch,,Gates doesn’t give you anything unless there’s $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ in it for him…and so i stay with pirate 7

    1. I pirate software from time to time as well, I just don’t get upset that the makers of it haven’t replaced it with free, full legitimate copies. I admit my theft and do not expect special treatment for it. Maybe it’s time you grew up too.

  8. I’m in a vast minority, but I rely on Windows Media Center for my television. It came with Windows 7 and is the only CableCard certified software to get all the channels. So I may upgrade other computers, but upgrading to 10 means losing my television… not going to happen.

    You can buy Windows Media Center separately now, but what’s the point when my home theater does everything I need it to?

    1. I was in the same boat as you. I had a Ceton InfiniTV4 and a cable card from TWC. Worked flawlessly acting as my media hub to the Xbox 360, and 3 other Media Center Extenders. Within the last 2 months, I ended up moving away from that setup, and buying a Roku 3. I never thought I would make that move because I loved the whole WMC setup. However, I wanted to cut my cable bill by $90, and I also wanted to get better codec support for MP4s and MKVs which WMC doesn’t natively support (Sharks007 transcoder aside).
      A bit off-topic, but thought I would just chime in 🙂

      1. Thanks, unfortunately, we aren’t at the place where we are ready to say goodbye to cable. I don’t really need great codec support, but since it is a regular Windows computer, I could put something on there that does that well.

        Yes, it is a little off-topic. I’d just say that for some newer versions of Windows a downgrade even if it has a higher number. Some of the best money saving functionality is lost in an upgrade. Shame that few people use it.

    2. Same here. I’m not going to “upgrade” if it means having to shell out $100 to retain the functionality I use every day. WMC is still the only game in town when it comes to CableCard, and Comcast now encrypts every damn channel, even the basic local stuff.
      And are you even going to be able to purchase WMC with Windows 10?

    3. I recently switched from WMC to Kodi (which used to be XBMC) and I am very happy with it. It is much more customizable and has more features.

  9. Saying, “some features may not work properly” sounds like something you try to scare your Grand Parents with. Good products at reasonable prices which you can try before you buy is a great sales approach. Yesterday it sounded like Microsoft was starting to get it, now like more of the same. If they release a hobbled copy of Windows 10 then in less than a month someone will have found a vulnerability and exploited it. Whereas if they would offer free upgrades to everyone with no string attached it would create an instant fan base. Hackers would report vulnerabilities instead of exploiting them, making the OS more stable and secure. This would lead to greater confidence and sales to Gov’t, Education and Corporate customers. The average consumers should only have to consider the quality of the hardware that Windows 10 is installed on instead of OS as well.

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