[Update] Pirates get free copies of Windows 10 – but it won’t be genuine

microsoft free windows 10 china windows10 continuum 1c
Updated 3/19/2015 2:00PM PST: Microsoft has clarified that while users with an unlicensed copy of Windows will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, their edition will remain unlicensed. An official statement made this clear, reading: “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.” 

For as long as commercial software has been around, so have software pirates. Microsoft is very familiar with this, as the Windows operating system has been widely pirated throughout most of its existence. Now the company is taking a unique approach to fighting the piracy problem.

In 2011, Microsoft estimated that only one in 10 users of its products in China were paying for them, and recent studies show that 75 percent of all PC software is not properly licensed in the country. Rather than stick with old strategies, Microsoft has decided to make its upcoming Windows 10 a free upgrade for PCs running Windows 7 and up, whether users actually own those previous versions or not. “We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10,” executive vice president of operating systems Terry Myerson told Reuters recently.

While the free-upgrade program is currently limited to China, it’s yet another step toward making Windows 10 more easily accessible to consumers. In January, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be a free update for users of devices running Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and RT. The only difference is that outside of China, those devices have to be running genuine versions of those operating systems.

This isn’t the only move that Microsoft is making to gain ground in China. Tuesday morning the company confirmed a partnership with Chinese smartphone manufacture Xiaomi to create a version of Windows Phone that can be flashed onto Android phones.

Microsoft is aiming for a summer launch of Windows 10, and the OS will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages. This may not bring the company back to Windows 95-like levels of ubiquity, but Microsoft is certainly working hard ensure that Windows 10 starts off on the right foot.

Computing

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the next version of Windows 10

Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate on each of the features independently.
Computing

Problems with installing or updating Windows 10? Here's how to fix them

Upgrading to the newest version of Windows 10 is usually a breeze, but sometimes you run into issues. Never fear though, our guide will help you isolate the issue at hand and solve it in a timely manner.
Computing

Microsoft is getting ready for a coming wave of foldable Windows 10 devices

Windows 10 might soon have a new look. A leaked string for an internal Windows 10 19H1 build shows that Microsoft is getting ready to build Windows 10 for a future wave of foldable devices.
Computing

Getting Windows 10 updated doesn't have to be so painful

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Computing

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Computing

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.
Computing

Heal your wrist aches and pains with one of these top ergonomic mice

If you have a growing ache in your wrist, it might be worth considering ergonomic mice alternatives. But which is the best ergonomic mouse for you? One of these could be the ticket to the right purchase for you.
Gaming

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.
Apple

Want a MacBook that will last all day on a single charge? Check these models out

Battery life is one of the most important factors in buying any laptop, especially MacBooks. Their battery life is typically average, but there are some standouts. Knowing which MacBook has the best battery life can be rather useful.
Computing

Want a Dell laptop with an RTX 2060? Cross the new XPS 15 off your list

The next iteration of Dell's XPS 15 laptop won't come with an option for an RTX 2060, according to Alienware's Frank Azor. You could always opt for a new Alienware m15 or m17 instead.
Computing

Always have way too many tabs open? Google Chrome might finally help

Google is one step closer to bringing tab groups to its Chrome browser. The feature is now available in Google's Chrome Canady build with an early implementation that can be enabled through its flag system.