Last week, Microsoft reiterated that anyone beta testing Windows 10 would get the final product for free, leading some to erroneously believe that pirates could simply sign-up for the beta and go legit. But then the software giant silently changed its announcement to clarify the statement. And hilarity ensued.
We’ve been dealing with this issue—whether software pirates would get Windows 10 for free—all year, thanks in part to a curiously inelegant statement by Windows lead Terry Myerson in March. If you read this site, you got the story right all along—I won’t name names, but some bloggers really screwed this one up—which is this: Microsoft Reiterates that Pirates Will Not Get Windows 10 for Free. But when Reuters misquoted Mr. Myerson a few days later, I had to be even clearer: Sorry, Microsoft is Not Giving Free Windows 10 to Pirates.
And then Friday happened.
As I noted in Microsoft Announces Changes to Windows Insider Program, Gabe Aul reiterated, among other things, that Windows Insiders—those beta testing Windows 10—would get the final version of Windows 10 for free. You know, just like the rest of the planet. Seemed clear enough.
But then some bloggers—again, no names—started writing tips about how people with pirated versions of Windows could then simply join the Windows Insider program, install a pre-release version of Windows 10, and suddenly be made whole again. Or what Microsoft calls being “Genuine.” That pirated version of Windows whatever (or an older Windows version, like Vista) would magically turn into a fully-supported, non-pirated version of Windows 10.
Not so fast, Microsoft said.
In a silent change to that original blog post, Mr. Aul added the following text: “It’s important to note that only people running Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 as part of the free upgrade offer.”
And some other text was changed. One line originally read as:
“As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh.”
It was changed to the following, where the word “activated” is removed twice, changing the meaning dramatically:
“As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build. Once you have successfully installed this build, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh.”
This has caused a lot of confusion with bloggers, but then these same people never understood that Microsoft never intended for pirates to get Windows 10 for free. So while the changes to Aul’s post merited an explanation, all Microsoft did was clarify the post in order to make it match what is really happening. Which, again, hasn’t changed at all. Microsoft hasn’t dropped a “bombshell,” nor has it “u-turned” on its offer. NOTHING has changed.
Pirates are STILL not getting Windows 10 for free. Let’s move on, folks.