In a surprising turn of events on Microsoft’s part, the new Windows 10 upgrade will also be available to users who currently have pirated copies of any earlier versions.
Microsoft also got a bit more specific with the launching date saying it will come out “this summer”. Prior to this statement, the company had set the release for fall, which probably meant October, as Microsoft usually debuts its products around that month.
Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s operating systems group, was the first to announce that Windows 10 will also be free of charge for pirates. Today, Microsoft also gave a statement saying that even “non-genuine” editions – which if fancy talk for illegal copies – will be able to get the upgrade.
This move is indeed surprising as Microsoft has always been known for spending a lot of resources and created multiple technologies in the fight against piracy. The company’s most difficult front is on the Chinese market, where 3 in 4 versions of Windows are estimated to be pirated.
Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner, explained that various “get legal” programs have proved to be failures, as they also required some fee, just like that 2007 initiative that kept prompting illegal users to buy legitimate licenses.
Apparently, the new initiative of giving free updates to all, as presented by a spokesperson of Microsoft, will make customers realize, in time, that licensed Windows are indeed valuable and the transition to legitimate copies will be easier.
Windows 10 will be a free upgrade on all devices that currently run on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Older versions like the retired Windows XP or the total failure Windows Vista are not on the list for the free Windows 10.
This limitation will mostly affect the Chinese market, where a survey conducted by Net Applications showed that only 8 percent of personal computers run Windows 8 or 8.1, while the majority of 52 percent work on Windows 7. The most unexpected figure showed that 38 percent still use Windows XP or Vista.
When asked about the motivation behind this “freemium” initiative, Silver speculated that Microsoft will be able to count how many users are running pirated copies, in an attempt of building a safer environment where Windows 10 can prosper.
At the same time, if huge numbers of consumers will be able to freely upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will automatically build a larger pool of customers that would gain interest in their other services.
Microsoft is not the first to take the free-to-pirates decision. Redmond, Wash. company’s renewed strategy also takes the focus of the licensing revenue, and turns to the free model; charges are being made only for various premium features that improve product functionality.
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