Windows 10 free Upgrade Policy confuses some and disappoints others

An unusual move from Microsoft Corp. left many genuine users of the Windows OS surprised as the company came clear on its Windows 10 free upgrade policy. Yes, Microsoft clarified people running pirated versions of Windows will also get the free Windows upgrade to version 10 alongside the genuine users – and not just in China, but worldwide!


The decision taken by the software giant comes close on the grounds of piracy issues. Microsoft has long struggled with piracy issues especially, in China. Former CEO, Steve Ballmer had revealed that Microsoft’s revenue in China represented only 5% of sales in the US, implying that much of its software in China was pirated and unlicensed. Although, Windows 8 demand has been lacklustre, the OS continues to remain one of Microsoft’s core revenue generators.

To overcome this, the tech bigwig decided to offer free upgrade from a non-genuine version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. The idea behind this is to basically get all Windows users on the same common base.

Having said that, it should be noted though non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgraded to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license. So, if you are running a pirated version of Windows, you’ll essentially be upgrading to a non-authorized version of Windows 10.

This is confusing. What does this mean? So will a pirated Windows user be able to upgrade to Windows 10 – but since his Windows 10 does not get activated, he will not be eligible to get further security or feature updates? This is what is being currently understood by me.

Windows 10 free upgrade policy

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 activated by Microsoft. It is not properly licensed, or supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner. If a device was considered non-genuine prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine after the upgrade, said the Microsoft spokesperson.

Read: Making sense of Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade strategy.

As Microsoft describes the situation on its Genuine Windows page, you’ll may frequent messages, warning you that your copy of Windows may not be genuine. Your desktop could turn to black. You can reset it, but it will continue to turn black periodically, until you activate Windows. All your applications may still be able to function, but you may not be able to update your Windows 10 computer further to get critical security updates or updates which add features to the operating system.

The latest move from Microsoft of upgrading pirated versions to legitimate versions of Windows 10 makes sense in a way.

It can help expand Windows user base and get all Windows users on to a common base platform, which will allow Microsoft to widen its ecosystem with applications such as Cortana, Spartan, Office 365, Azure and more. This way, instead of charging an upfront fee for the operating system, Microsoft covers an alternative way for generating revenue in more passive ways, like Bing search along with subscriptions to Office and Windows as well.

The obvious fallout of Microsoft’s plan is that this disappoints all those genuine Windows users, who had paid for the operating system. Now with this step, even users with pirated versions of Windows, will come onto the common base.

This is of course based on the understanding of the declared intent today. The earlier Microsoft clears the air, the better.

You thoughts and inputs would be most appreciated!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.