Think you'll be getting a free upgrade to Windows 10 from your pirated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1? Not so fast.
For months, rumors have been swirling that suggested Microsoft was so eager to get its entire customer base onto Windows 10 that it will extend its free upgrade offer even to those who obtained their copies of Windows by, um, questionable means. Well, it seems that may not be true after all. Or not entirely true. Or something.
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Microsoft operating systems exec veep Terry Myerson weighed in on Friday to clarify the software giant's position on "Non-Genuine" Windows installs – although as clarity goes, his comments were hardly crystal.
"Non-Genuine Windows has a high risk of malware, fraud, public exposure of your personal information, and a higher risk for poor performance or feature malfunctions," Myserson said. "Non-Genuine Windows is not supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner."
Fair enough. So what about those free upgrades?
"While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we've always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state," said Myerson.
OK then. Microsoft will not be offering free upgrades to Windows 10 to customers who are running an older version of Windows that isn't properly licensed. That's plain enough, right? But hang on ...
"In addition, in partnership with some of our valued OEM partners, [sic] we are planning very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers for their customers running one of their older devices in a Non-Genuine state," Myerson added. "Please stay tuned to learn more from our partners on the specifics of their offers."
If you can parse that one, then please let us know via the comments.
From the sound of it, though, Microsoft plans to offer discounts on Windows 10 via certain of its OEM partners who might not have been entirely on the up-and-up about their Windows licensing in the past. Which partners, what kind of discounts, and on what terms is anyone's guess.
If we had to speculate, we'd hazard that this is all about trying to expand the paying Windows user base in developing markets like China, India, Brazil, and other regions where you're more likely to be running an unlicensed copy of the OS than a legitimate one.
If, on the other hand, you just downloaded your copy of Windows from BitTorrent and used a keygen to activate it, don't expect Microsoft to give you a free upgrade to Windows 10. At least, that's our hunch.
"Windows 10 is still in development and we won't be able to answer all questions yet," Myerson wrote, "but I hope this provides some clarification on important topics."
Hope springs eternal, Terry. ®