Microsoft offers an olive branch for users of 'Non-Genuine' Windows PCs to get a Windows 10 upgrade

Earlier this year, Microsoft said that owners of PCs with licensed versions of Windows 7 and/or Windows 8.1 would be able to update to Windows 10 for free for a year after the OS is launched sometime later this summer. Today, the company's head of the Operating System division, Terry Myerson, offered an olive branch to those PC owners who are running a "Non-Genuine" version of Windows to get upgraded to Windows 10 as well.

In March, Myerson hinted that pirates would also be able to update to Windows 10 for free, but then the company backtracked on that move, saying that even if pirates do update their old non-licensed version of Windows to Windows 10, they will still be using an un-licensed software product.

While those PC users with a "Non-Genuine" version of Windows are still not eligible for the free update to Windows 10, Myerson did give them hope to get a cheap upgrade in a blog post today:

"Microsoft and our OEM partners know that many consumers are unwitting victims of piracy, and with Windows 10, we would like all of our customers to move forward with us together. While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we've always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state. In addition, in partnership with some of our valued OEM partners, we are planning very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers for their customers running one of their older devices in a Non-Genuine state. Please stay tuned to learn more from our partners on the specifics of their offers."

Myerson also stated what people who use a non-licensed version of Windows 10 will see on their desktop:

"When we can't verify that Windows is properly installed, licensed, and not tampered with, we create a desktop watermark to notify the user. If you ever encounter this watermark on a new machine, I encourage you to return the device immediately to the retailer from whom you purchased it and request a Genuine Windows device. Non-Genuine Windows has a high risk of malware, fraud, public exposure of your personal information, and a higher risk for poor performance or feature malfunctions. Non-Genuine Windows is not supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner."

Source: Microsoft

127 Comments
  • Win10 for the Win.
  • Kinda. This is a nice move, but I come on - we (ugh.. i mean SOMEONE) will pirate Win10 also.
  • It's already free. There's no real point to pirating Windows 10. Might as well get a copy of Windows 7 legally and cheap, then upgrade. Or you can become an Insider.
  • But it sounds very fishy. There must be something behind this free offer.
  • It's still "Free for the first year" remember. I heard if you upgrade to 10 in the first year, its free and stays free forever with fee updates. I've also heard its a free upgrade, but after the first year you need to pay for updates/major OS revisions.
  • That's is completely wrong. It's only "free for the first year" THE UPGRADE from a legal license of Win7, 8, 8.1. And it's a service now, so you won't pay for updates.
  • It's a free upgrade for Win 7 & Win 8.1. You can not upgrade from Win 8.0 directly. You would have to upgrade to Win 8.1 from Win 8.0 to upgrade to Win 10.
  • When windows 8.1 was released the upgrade price for the first 6 months was $39. I upgraded all of my computers.  There is nothing fishy about it at all, it's Microsoft trying to make a lot of money.   Microsoft needs massive adoption of Windows 10 for their own sake.   They make 30% off of all app purchases.  Instead of being stingy and hoping to make $79 off of each Windows customer up front they want to get you hooked on Xbox Music, OneDrive, $79 per *year* Office 365 and Xbox Live.   Then over the next 10 years of Windows 10 people will also develop more for Universal Applications and push tablet sales, push phone sales and push most importantly app sales.  If you buy $100 per year of apps then Microsoft takes 30%.  If you download dozens of free apps then Microsoft takes a cut of all of the ad revenue.     Every Windows 7 PC out there in the world is losing them money that they could be making off of ad revenue in free apps etc.   Microsoft very much wants everybody to have a Windows Store compatible OS so that they can start selling billions in applications.  Let's put things in perspective, Apple made $4.5B in 2014 from their cut of app sales.  That's in line with Windows' revenue in the same period.  Add in advertising revenue and Microsoft knows that it could make more money off of app sales than it does off of windows.  There are less than a billion iOS devices vs billions of Windows PCs.   If Microsoft could convert every existing Windows user into a Windows Store customer then they could improve on their current sales.   And that's ignoring the fact that Microsoft will still be selling Windows to their most profitable customers: OEMs and Businesses.   This upgrade isn't free for businesses. 
  • The upgrade was actually $15, for the first year. You just had to say your bought your W7 PC within the previous 6 months and it worked - no proof required!
  • Good luck findind Win 7 cheap or new. It's almost impossible. I have tried to purchase it everywhere with no success. I can't stand Win 8 with its stupid tiles and no start menu. Looks like 10 will be similar. Not sure though as I can't be bothered testing it. I'd rather stay on 7 but cannot get a licence for it.
  • It was possible to tweak 8 in Settings so it booted up and ran/looked like 7. Plus you could still have two apps open and better touch OS of 8. But I've seen the 10 for computers is like 7 & 8 combined. It's like halfway in between 7 & 8.
  • There no way to tweak it to work like Windows 7.  I jsut installed Windows 7 on an older laptop that I have and everytime I boot it it makes me more and more exasperated with Windows 8.1.  You can try as hard as you want, but you cannot tweak the registry to make it run like Windows 7 and all of the 3rd party add-ons to try to bolt that on look like utter ass (messy as hell). I like the start menu coming back, and the Windowed Metro apps but this new direction concerns me becaues Metro apps perform terrible compared to Native Apps, and I don't want to have to use any of them on a regular basis if I have a choice.
  • There were several things you could do (in settings, not add-ons) to make 8.1 more 7-like:
    In Desktop, right-click bottom right or right-click Windows logo or try both, select "when I hit Windows button take me to Desktop, not Start".
  • Also in there is "when I boot up PC, boot to Desktop, not Start tiles". Also, go to Desktop, in Control Panel, change Control Panel view to 'classic view' (or something) so it ends up looking like the old 7 Control Panel..
  • You could even go to 'Desktop', hit 'Personalize' and change theme to Windows Aero (so that your open windows in desktop look like 7).
  • It only takes about a month of using it often to get used to it. Now after a year of using it I feel just as lost when I try to use 7. I actually get annoyed with 7 now. 10 is a happy medium. 10 mobile, on the other hand, is a desktop centric disaster on a phone.
  • Clearly you prefer unsafe, virus infectable apps that leave a lot of garbage and a slow coputer behind when they get uninstalled. Congratulations, there's a solution for you. I for once prefer  a metro app when available, it's even better than portable apps!
  • windows 8 always worked just like windows 7. when you are in the desktop, pretty much everything works like 7. you have windowed apps, the right click menu is the same, and the comtrol panel is the same. the only thing different is the start menu and charms. In 8.1, you can turn off the charms. So, that leaves us with the start menu, which is just an app launcher. the start screen can launch and app just as well as the start menu. the full screen menu makes finding apps easier in my opinion since you see more apps on the screen. Only thing missing is jump lists and that will be added later in win10. i use win 7 at work and 10 at home. i wish i could use 10 at work because the menu is easier to organize to match my work flow. there are plenty of metro apps that perform well. just look at adobes demo of the metro photoshop app they are making.  They are also allowing x86 apps to be packaged as metro apps. metro apps are easier to install and uninstall and there is less chance of betting malware. i don't believe you have a reason to be concerned with metro apps. plus, if you are correct about performance, developers can still make the regular x86 apps.
  • StartIsBack (http://startisback.com/) looks and works just like the Wndows 7 start menu.. never had a problem with it. And, if you take the time to configure a few things, you can control how it integrates into the non-desktop part of the system. Ironically, people acted the same way about Windows XP.
  • what exactly is so special about the start menu? a popup menu with a bunch of nested folders. i prefer a full screen menu that shows more apps so i scroll less. the smallest tile is a lot like an icon. the only thing really missing are jump lists. you can take a look at images and videos of windows 10. it has a start menu with tiles on the right side. you can unpin the tiles if you like.
  • it sounds like there will be a cheap upgrade offer. maybe something like the $30 upgrade for win8. i can't imagine dealing with a pirated copy when the upgrade is inexpensive. however, i bet there will be people who fo it.
  • Déjà vu
  • So what if some people downloaded official Windows 7/8 ISO and just used "Windows activator" to get license?
  • You think they don't know? They always know, they just don't do anything about it
  • So then It's genuine version right?
  • it is not a genuine vesrion. It act as a genuine that it's. 
  • I did it in my old PC, till now no problem lets see if I can upgrade it to Win 10 or not....
  • Thats a bad thing. You should buy. If you want a free os that can run Windows programs install xp or ubuntu wirh vine client
  • You get upgraded to Windows 10 but have to put up with an irritating watermark on your screen til you get legal.
  • Do my PC count as genuine? I installed windows 8 when it was launched and activated it via pool activation key then used one of those free media centre key sent by Ms to activate it permanently.
  • Where did you get Win 8 from?
  • From upgrade assistance.
  • You're good. It's legit.
  • Yes, the wmc trick was a massive oversight on ms side, it is a geunine key as far as microsoft can tell
  • Just join win 10 insider preview, free upgrade to win 10 rtm...
  • That statemet about insider upgrades was taken back.  It still requires a valid upgrade.  
  • It won't count as a genuine Windows license.
  • Let see then what happens... Maybe someone makes activator for W10 too. As a poor student I am myself I would really love to buy Windows and support company I love, but just now cannot afford.
  • Just checked my Windows 7 if it's genuine and it is! :D
  • Microsoft is cool now.
  • Yeah, it's better to approach people in a nice fashion instead of showing up angry and frustrated. In my opinion, people who normally approach Microsoft with frustration and post non-constructive feedback on Twitter and forums should learn from this :)
  • Seems genuine
  • Could someone explain what this means? I tried reading it a few times but I can't tell what it's saying. :-)
  • This means desperation to create a positive image.
  • Basically, if you have a pirated version of Windows right now, you will soon get an offer to upgrade your pirated illegal serial number, to a genuine (authentic) serial number. It will not be sold by Microsoft directly, but instead from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), meaning Dell, ASUS, Acer, HP, etc.
  • You would still get it but it'll too be non-genuine as your base license is non genuine
  • It means if you are having non genuine win7/8 then you wont be getting win10 for free...but if you already have win10 tp upgraded from earlier non genuine windows then you can continue using it (am I right?? Becus that doesn't make any sense XD)
  • No,you are not right. Read it again
  • If you join the win 10 insider preview you have a direct path to win 10 rtm ...free it was posted in an article here in WC earlier this week or late last week
  • Genuine Win 7, 8, 8.1 -> Win 10 TP -> Genuine Win 10 RTM Pirated Win 7, 8, 8.1 -> Win 10 TP (and a clean install of Win 10 TP) -> Non-genuine Win 10 RTM, which is already stated by Microsoft after that news was posted.
  • It is more confusing before they try to clearify it.  It seems to say that those knowingly use a genuine non-genuine copy of Windows won't get a free upgrade.  But those who unknowingly to get an illegal copy of Windows thru OEMs will get an attractive upgrade offer from MS.  Who are those people, I wonder?  Anyway, I would like to see that MS to make an attractive upgrade offer to all those who have actually purchased genuine XP or Vista copies.
  • Simple, the most common example of this scenario is when a customer buys a pc / laptop from a pc repair shop. Most of these shysters' use a single copy of windows and install it on different machines along with a activator and a water mark remover.
  • Good point.
  • It sounds like they are serious about making sure people get a good, virus-free experience. I also wonder about what the difference will be between upgrading to a genuine license, versus signing up now as a Windows Insider, seeing as the Insider option allows you to get it for free. Perhaps they are talking about upgrading to a genuine version of either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, not Windows 10.
  • Then hook em with a subscription fee!!! Sweet move.
  • they have never said there will be a subscription fee. windows as a service means it will be constantly updated like chrome. it doesn't mean it will become a subscription service. until microsoft actually announces a subscription fee, you are just spreading a completely unsubstantiated rumor.
  • Uh huh...sure...
  • That's what I was thinking
  • Signing up as a Windows Insider doesn't get you a free licensed copy of Windows 10.  You'll still need a valid Windows 7 or 8 license to upgrade.   https://twitter.com/GabeAul/status/597773851150446592
  • My guess is that you'll just get the rtm build, then the next non-release build, and so on. You'll be in a permanent tester state.
  • If you have a non genuine license, even as an Insider, you wont be upgraded to genuine. Non genuine insiders are still non genuine and MS knows.
  • I misread it and thought a free upgrade to non-genuine users. Lets hope its cheap and attractive enough for them to push them for upgrade.
  • I normally buy my Windows (I've bought XP and 7 in the past), but after my PC broke,I bought a new one and I couldn't afford spending the extra money, I downloaded a pirated version, and I kinda feel bad. If we get Windows 10 for free it would make me feel a lot better.
  • That's not going to happen..but you might be able to get Windows 10 cheaply :)
  • You usually can thru vendors like newegg
  • if you haev a valid 7 lisence, you have a path to 10 for free
  • My old pc had valid windows 7 but I installed pirated windows 8 do I get genuine windows 10 or not
  • You can use the Windows 7 license to get w10. If you have the key/serial number. Also you should put your hard drive with W7 in your new machine(if it functions and clone it)
  • Piracy is bad, I would rather use Ubuntu
  • It sounds fair, but I am sure the price will be cheap. if they are giving it for free to 7 and 8. why would they make it expensive to buy a new license for vista, xp or 3.1 users or just new computers? it would make sense if they make it really cheap. and make people stop trying to pirate Windows, and just get it paid and cheap and original. it's the last version of windows, and I am sure Microsoft wants it to be everywhere, because that would give them advantage in many fields, from game console to mobile and Hololens and anywhere they put Windows 10.
  • Well as noted the free version is just base W10 for all consumers while prosumers get pro, & vl customers get enterprise
  • Actually it goes further than that, if your running windows 7 pro / ultimate your going to get windows 10 pro. If your running windows 7 home basic and premium you will get Windows 10 home. I imagine this would apply to Windows 7 Starter as well unless there is a Windows 10 with bing SKU.
  • Nope sounds about right ^ just Home and Pro is all we gotta worry about in the consumer space.
  • I was running a non genuine version of windows 7 with said watermark on the desktop. I then joined the preview and installed windows 10 the watermark still remained. Then in settings I completely wiped my system and reinstalled windows 10 from scratch. Now there is no watermark! Just saying.
  • That's because you did a clean install of the tech preview which has a genuine preview key, when Windows 10 hits RTM then you still need a genuine 7/8 or 8.1 license to get rid of the watermark.
  • That doesn't make sense because every one on the insider preview will be getting the rtm version of Windows 10
  • MS is not concerned about the money... They want to disappear every other Windows OS and A complete W10 market to Push Universal App strategy..
  • If they wanted to disappear all other Windows versions then they would provide an upgrade path for Win8 touch users. Clearly, though, Win8's touch interface is still way ahead of W10's. Also, W8 already has universal apps.
  • I'm sorry Andy, said windows 8 touch users are still running windows 8 aren't they? :P. So there is an upgrade path. However the UX regression is down to the enterprise, it was to alien for them. Hence why they rolled out Windows 7 instead of Windows 8.x. Never the less Continuum + tablet mode will continue to evolve as the world becomes increasingly mobile.
  • They later restated it still required a valid upgrade.  It was kind of meaningless as they assumed insiders had valid licenses. 
  • I would rather go with insider version of windows.. Free Forever ;)
  • great job
  • Charge $40 or less to get a genuine license.
  • I agree.. with no incentive to pay for a legal copy the pirates will just continue to pirate... make it cheap enough and many might take advantage of the sweet deal to go legit. I have 3 computers... my oldest one has a pirated version of windows 8.1 on it... I bought a copy of Vista years ago to get a legal upgrade to 7 and I upgraded that version legally every time on this main PC that I use for business.. the 2nd PC had a legal copy of XP on it but I lost the key during a format and couldn't find the info anywhere so I got a pirated copy of 8.1 as it's just a second PC I hardly ever use...  I'd make it legit and use it more if it was worth it... Like $40 why not?
  • Too much, less than $10 would be the sweet spot imo. For you $40 dollars won't be much however for other countries that is alot of money.
  • It's a forever OS. It's not like you are buying Win7, you're buying upgrades until your PC handle it.
  • They should make it on par with the Windows 7 --> Windows 8 ugrade pricing i.e. The $15 upgrade that a lot of us took advantage of!
  • Actually, this kind of ticks me off. "Unwitting victims of piracy" my ass. Why should I have to be honest all these years only to find out piracy would eventually get me a discount? 
  • What difference would it make to you? Seriously... how does it effect you at all what someone else pays? You are getting it free.... they are being offered a discount in case they also want to go legit... They can still ignore it and keep pirating, or they can pay a little and get legit which also bennefits YOU because now they are more likely to buy apps and games from the legal store.  
  • Actually there are unwitting victims. There are a lot of shady computer builders out there. And if you're pissed because you're "honest", you're not really honest, you're just afraid to get caught.
  • I reckon around 5-10% would be unwitting vicitims. The rest are just dodgy cheapskates (Windows 8 was $15!!!)
  • Ok, I'm still confused about this. I've installed Windows 10 on two machines, one, running 8.1, I upgraded via Windows Upgrade and the other, running Windows 7 32 bit, I upgraded as a clean install so that I could install Windows 10 64 bit.
    Both were genuine Windows but now I'm worried that the clean install won't be genuine come RTM.
    I still have the genuine Windows 7 disc and activation key but will the activation key work?
  • Am in the same boat, upgraded Windows 7 to 10 not sure if it will work out!
  • Keep your Key safe, only that matters.
  • This is stupid... most people running a pirated version don't do so unwittingly... That was their intention to circumvent paying at all... What makes Microsoft think they will pay for a cheaper upgrade? Than free? What does cheaper than free look like?
  • You say that, but once upon a time I bought a PC in a UK high street store and it came with Win 3.11 for workgroups installed... turned out to be fake.
  • Care to back that up with any facts? Truth is you don't know exactly how many people went to a shady computer builder and got a pirated version of Windows. It actually happens a lot.
  • It does, your local pc repair shop could be one of them.
  • No! A lot of people run pirated copies of Windows 7 because Windows 8 sux balls and you cannot buy a retail version of Windows 7 any more. Believe me, I tried when I just built my new PC! I could not use my old genuine Windows 7 key as it was OEM!
    Why should MS force me to use a version of Windows that I hate using? I want to stay with 7 and as it's stands, only a pirated copy will all us to do that.
  • I had to activate my Windows 10 Enterprise copy with with my Windows 8.1 Enterprise key. Preview key no longer worked.
  • I took advantage of the Windows 8 OEM upgrade offer where I was able to upgrade to Windows 8 for $15 a license. I forget what it was called, but it asked you to enter a data and model of computer you purchased. You could just enter anything as long as the date was within a specific timeframe. I purchased at least 6 genuine licenses. 
  • I remember.
  • Yeah, I did the same. No proof was required, only a date within 6 months and a few minor details. I actually bought my PC 2 years before, but still used that W7 key to upgrade to W8 for $15 :)
  • "victims" lol
  • Hahah right?
  • What about my genuine Windows XP? Has got bigger share than Windows 8/8.1 combined....
  • Congratulations.
  • You want an oatmeal cookie grandpa?...
  • the same people using non-genuine Windows now will be the same people using non-genuine versions of Windows 10.   They'll simply torrent the new version and be done with it.   As long as MS relies on its current authenticity validation scheme, things will not change.      
  • I'd buy a Pro if it was something like $50.
  • $15, like Windows 8 was
  • Genuine Windows 8.1 user
  • People who pirate operating systems are stupid. Microsoft should find a way to disable pirated versions of Windows 10
  • Having been through an MS audit...they know, they definitely know
  • I get a windows 7 signature edition with original (and supposed) genuine serial key. After one year or so I had to reinstall the OS and I use that serial number, Result:  windows activation system shows unlegitimate serial number.
  • You just have to call and reactivate.
  • yes, I try to do so, but here in mexico the microsoft service it's not so good, I had to buy a new serial and activate with that, it's working well until Now
  • I wouldn't offer pirates shit but a hard way to go.
  • MS should brick pirates PC. Kidding.
  • Good strategy by MS. But kind of unfair to genuine XP users. So I'll have to throw my genuine xp away and buy a new w10 license, while people using pirated w7&8 get discounts?
  • Also in there is "when I boot up PC, boot to Desktop, not Start tiles". Also, go to Desktop, in Control Panel, change Control Panel view to 'classic view' (or something) so it ends up looking like the old 7 Control Panel.
  • fbl_olive
  • How do you know if you are running a pirated version of windows??? I bought an HP laptop , from a repairer, dunno if I'm running a pirated version . how do I know ?? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Why can't they simply offer everyone a free upgrade to win10 and then ask a license? Won't we all have to pay for a license after that period?
  • That "free for a year" still concerns me. Is it free to install for a year then after it costs to upgrade or is it free for a year then you have to pay for it either way? Hmmm unclear wording from MS there...
  • WOW People running  Windows Melenium, Windows 2000 and Windows XP which is a consideral number of People have to bite the Bulet and buy a Windows instalation DVD or ISO downlowd with activation key. Does anyone know what a retail box of Windows 10 pro will cost at Staples
  •     If Mcrosoft is planning to give the OS away free anyway and become a services company, what difference does make? The goal is to get the OS on as many devices as possible (10 billion in the next few years) so they may as well let them have it.