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Microsoft's latest on Windows 10 to pirates: No deal

Gregg Keizer | May 19, 2015
Company now says its free offer does not apply to non-genuine copies, but plans to make upgrades 'very attractive' to some counterfeits

Alternately, because Myerson spent time in the post talking about how Microsoft will identify a non-genuine copy -- "When we can't verify that Windows is properly installed, licensed, and not tampered with, we create a desktop watermark to notify the user" -- it's possible that Microsoft has not changed its position at all. In that scenario, Myerson was simply reiterating what the company said on March 19: Pirated copies could get Windows 10 free of charge, but would still be marked as pirated.

Such gymnastics are virtually required when parsing Microsoft's statements. Like many companies, technology and otherwise, Microsoft chooses its words carefully, and when it does disclose information, often does so in parcels that are by turns opaque, ambiguous and confusing to customers. That frequently forces it to retract or modify earlier comments.

It's more than likely that Myerson's reference to "very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers" was the correct interpretation.

Why? Because in March, Myerson touted new partnerships with several Chinese companies to distribute Windows 10 upgrades, including computer maker Lenovo; China's biggest social network, Tencent; and Qihu 360, a Chinese security firm also known for its 360 Secure Browser.

Lenovo will provide upgrade services at its 2,500 service centers in China, while Tencent and Qihu 360 will each directly offer the Windows 10 upgrade to their users. Both Tencent and Qihu 360 have huge numbers of customers in the People's Republic: 800 million and over 500 million, respectively, according to Myerson.

Side note: Both Tencent and Qihu, which also distribute their own security software to Chinese users, were recently accused of cheating on tests conducted by a trio of antivirus evaluation labs.

The upgrade partnerships hint at an effort to get China's Windows users -- many of whom run illegal copies of the OS -- to go legit with Windows 10, as does Myerson's pledge of attractive offers, aka discounts. "We would like all of our customers to move forward with us together [to Windows 10]," Myerson said Friday, even as he denied that non-genuine copies of Windows 7 and 8.1 were eligible for the upgrade.

Also on Friday, he repeated a long-standing promise that once users are on Windows 10, they will receive "ongoing Windows innovation and security updates for free, for the supported lifetime of that device." Microsoft has yet to define the length of the "supported lifetime," but it will segregate devices by form factor for support.

Windows 10 will launch this summer.

 

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