Sorry, Microsoft is Not Giving Free Windows 10 to Pirates

Two pirates try to figure out a workaround to product activation. :)
Two pirates try to figure out a workaround to product activation. 🙂

A Reuters report earlier this week clearly stated that Microsoft planned to tackle software piracy, especially in China, with a “free upgrade to Windows 10.” But that is incorrect: Instead, Microsoft will continue to treat stolen Windows versions as it always has, and it is not giving amnesty to pirates.

The confusion is understandable, given the headline to the Reuters report: Microsoft tackles China piracy with free upgrade to Windows 10. But the article itself quotes Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson, who is leading the effort to develop Windows 10.

“We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10,” Myerson told Reuters in a telephone interview. The plan, Reuters said, was to “re-engage” with the hundreds of millions of users of Windows in China, though there was no “elaboration.”

That may very well be because Microsoft’s stance on pirated Windows copies has not changed at all. And in the wake of numerous inaccurate reports—”free upgrades even for pirated copies” and even I mentioned it myself in Boldly, Microsoft Claims It Will Ship Windows 10 This Summer—Microsoft has decided to set the record straight.

“We have always been committed to ensuring that customers have the best Windows experience possible,” a Microsoft statement notes. “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 mis-licensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mis-licensed after the upgrade.”

There’s a bit more about the cost of software piracy, but that’s not related to this discussion.

So here’s what’s really happening. Ready? Are you really ready for this?


Absolutely nothing.

This is exactly how Windows works today. The only difference is that with Windows 8.1 and now Windows 10, Windows is more readily available for download. So if you have a non-genuine (i.e. non-activated or “pirated” version) of Windows and you download the readily-available Windows 10 ISOs that Microsoft will make available, yes, you will be able to upgrade. But doing so won’t change anything. Windows is still not genuine. It’s still not supported.

So when Myerson says he wants to “re-engage” with China’s millions of pirates, it’s clear what he means. Yes, Microsoft will let those guys upgrade, just as his quote suggests. But this isn’t a way for pirates to enter the supported fold and go genuine. Sadly, this isn’t a story at all.

I do think Microsoft should give pirates amnesty this one time and let them go legit. At the very least offer a low-cost upgrade that anyone would purchase. But that’s not what’s happening.

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