Windows 10 Piracy Loophole Closed

John Lister's picture

The issue of exactly who gets a free copy of Windows 10 has continued to confuse the tech community. It now appears a couple of loopholes have been closed, restricting the pool of people getting the free upgrade.

Windows 10 will bring us very close to the end of the era of having to pay to use the operating system. Not only will it be the last completely new edition of Windows (with future changes made through major incremental updates), but it will also be a free upgrade in the first year for those running Windows 7 or 8.1.

In March, Microsoft also revealed that users in China will be able to get the free Windows 10 upgrade even if they are running a non-authentic (that is, pirated) copy of Windows. It later clarified this to say that this piracy policy applies worldwide, but the upgraded copy of Windows 10 will itself be considered non-authentic and thus subject to "nag screens" and other limitations.

Windows Insider Program At Heart Of Confusion

The latest in the Windows 10 upgrade 'confusion' involves those who have joined the Windows Insider program to test Windows 10 during its development. The Insider Program was designed so that ordinary people could run a sneak-peak of Windows 10, try out its new features, and report bugs to Microsoft.

It seems some Windows Insider testers thought they'd found a loophole, however. It originally appeared that anyone taking part in Windows Insider 10 campaign would also receive a free, final copy of the Windows 10 system (also known as Windows 10 RTM, or release to manufacturing). It meant that anyone running a pirated copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 could join the program, and receive a free upgrade to a legitimate copy of Windows 10.

Over the past weekend Microsoft sparked widespread confusion with a blog post which was later reworded, then a follow-up post. The posts tried to explain the logistics of getting and installing the finished Windows 10 if you are part of the program. (Source:

Finished Copy For Legit Customers Only

While there's still confusion over the posts, the best interpretation appears to be that unless you already have a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 on your machine, you can't get a copy of the official final release of Windows 10 RTM, which is the final version installed on new computers that are typically purchased from stores. (Source:

Windows Insider members who were running a non-authentic copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will instead have to continue running their test editions of Windows 10. These may receive some minor updates as Microsoft continues ironing out any bugs which come to light as the new system goes mainstream, but there's no guarantee how long this will last for, and Microsoft reserves the right to deactivate the test editions at any time.

What's Your Opinion?

Should Microsoft give a free upgrade to everyone who has tested Windows 10? Would doing so be a fair reward for their help with the testing program? Or would it be wrong to give a freebie to people who were previously running pirated copies of Windows?

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Dennis Faas's picture

If they are giving away Windows 10 for free to pirates in China, it doesn't make sense that Windows 10 beta testers cannot also receive a free upgrade - or anyone else for that matter (including Windows XP and Vista users). It seems like a complete contradiction in policy. Anyone can be a pirate, and living in China shouldn't be an exception.

mulderf_4854's picture

My 2 cents: I believe in legal versions. As Microsoft will be upgrading both 7 and 8 to 10 - it would make sense to allow for a set time frame - "all" individuals who want to use windows 10. (This could be for a few months for example) This would allow for all previous versions to be terminated - both for support/updates and fixes. The marketplace would then be officially windows 10 and Microsoft would be able to set a termination date for upgrading and then charge all others, plus new systems, a reasonable rate for the system. All software developers would then be able to concentrate on 10 and it would become the most supported and used system ever. This should increase Microsofts market and allow them to profit from extras and new systems. It would also have a negative impact on other systems as everyone likes to get something for free.

S.Rost_4855's picture

This is very parochial; unless a legitimate Win 7 or above is installed, no freebies should be offered. A user should support the Publisher and pay a nominal fee, the upgrade price assuming they had a legitimate copy of XP installed or if not, then they need to pay the full WIN 7 or above price as a new install. If MS gave everything away, they would cease innovations and fold.

bobskie1953's picture

I am an insider with activated win 10 does that mean if i had pirated win 7/8 and upgraded to win 10 then i won't get win 10 free upgrade

bobskie1953's picture

my windows 10 is activated will the qualify for free upgrade