Windows 10 Upgrade For Pirates: Applies Worldwide

John Lister's picture

Last week Microsoft confirmed it will give users running pirated copies of Windows 7 and 8.1 a free upgrade to Windows 10. Now it's revealed that offer has a big restriction, one that may undermine the entire purpose of the move.

Windows 10 Upgrade For All Applies Worldwide

The initial announcement appeared as if the piracy offer would only apply to users in China. Since then, however, Microsoft has made some clarified two main points.

One is that the offer will apply worldwide, and not just in China. The move was controversial enough in piracy-ridden China, and even more so in countries where piracy is not the norm. The other big catch is that even though Microsoft is allowing the Windows 10 upgrade to pirates, their resulting copy of Windows 10 will not be considered a genuine licensed installation. (Source:

Current Pirated Windows Users Will Still See Nag Screens

That means many of Microsoft's existing anti-piracy measures will still be in effect after the upgrade, including: repeated on-screen messages urging the user to pay for a license, and the desktop turning black after 60 minutes. Such measures are designed to be irritating and potentially embarrassing if the user is in a public place or shared office, but don't dramatically affect usability of the operating system.

It's also very possible people who run an unlicensed version of Windows 10 will receive only limited system updates. This may include receiving security patches only for critical vulnerabilities, but not feature updates. (Source:

The big risk with this strategy is that, rather than persuade users to pay for Windows 10, it might instead spur them to seek out illegal copies of the new system that have been altered to remove the anti-piracy measures. That could mean users will continue to visit piracy-related sites that could house security threats.

Microsoft could also eventually try to block the unlicensed copies of Windows 10 from working at all. The problem is that could prompt users to look for ways of blocking communication between their PC and Microsoft, which would then prevent them from receiving security updates of any kind. That in turn increases the risk of their PC getting and passing on a virus or other security threat to other PCs on the Internet or local area network.

What's Your Opinion?

Has Microsoft adopted the right balance between getting people to upgrade to Windows 10 and avoiding 'rewarding' piracy? Do you think Microsoft planned this all along or did it backtrack on the idea of giving users of knock-off systems a no-strings-attached upgrade? Are there more effective ways Microsoft could combat piracy?

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guitardogg's picture

Just when I thought they had finally come to their senses, the truth comes out! As mentioned in the article, this will just foster more illegal copies of Windows 10, and potentially make all PC users less secure! Either go all the way, or don't bother at all!

jlmiles8's picture

Just make Win 10 available for free to everyone. Apple is doing it! Why not Windows? If it is free there is no reason for piracy and Windows gains goodwill points - which they sorely need btw!

ecash's picture

Iv already had this debate.
MS said, that Win10 will be free for the 1st year..
Iv lived long enough to See between the lines and look for the Strange asterisk..

If you have a mixture of windows out there, how do you differentiate, them..
How many versions of Win7 and 8? 8-9??
How hard was it to Drop/restrict features to have this many choices/selections/versions??? And with different prices?
>70% of new windows users received them from a NEW computer..Free.?
most people didnt KNOW the difference in windows they were getting.
MOST new computer buyers, Didnt care. and didnt know there were different windows7/8.

If' there is 1 win10...Fine.
IF' there will be free updates..for the life of win10.. fine..