It’s official: Microsoft just can’t decide how it plans to roll out Windows 10. The company announced last week that it will be making the latest iteration to its desktop operating system available for free to all users signed up for Insider program, also confirming that all users — even pirates — will be able to snag the impending update for free. But then it furtively updated the blog post to make a few key changes that contradict its original claims.

Windows 10

In a blog post on late Friday night, company’s Windows Insider chief Gabriel Aul addressed many of the questions users have had about how exactly Microsoft plans to seed out the update. One such question was: what happens to users who are signed up for Insider program and are using the developer preview of Windows 10. To which, Aul had said that all such users will get the final update on July 29 — the day desktop versions of Windows 10 is scheduled to go live.

Furthermore, Aul also noted that any user — even folks who don’t have a legit copy (hence the valid license) of Windows 7 or Windows 8 — will be able to snag the update as long as they have signed up for the Insider program with a Microsoft account — which is absolutely free to make. This was a big welcoming move, getting the company praises from everywhere.

Do note that Aul never mentioned anything about Microsoft giving away Windows 10 for free to pirates (or users who don’t have the valid Windows license). But that’s what he was implying. Take this tweet for an example, where Aul succinctly notes that any user who cleans install Windows 10 from an ISO file will remain activated and get the final update for free. In other words, even if one doesn’t have a valid license of Windows 7 or Windows 8, all that needs to be done to get a legit copy of Windows 10 is to sign up for the Insider program with a Microsoft account (MSA), download the ISO file and install it on the computer.

As an old adage says, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Microsoft is seemingly a firm follower of this philosophy. The company shamelessly updated the blog post later to tweak a few things that contrast to its original claim. The revised copy of the post no longer has any mentioning of the part where Microsoft had mentioned that final build of Windows 10 preview will “remain activated.” Sure that doesn’t sound as bad. Until you see an update at the bottom which throws cold water on everything. “It’s important to note that only people running Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 as part of the free upgrade offer.”

There you have it. As of now, users who don’t have the legit copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8, the upcoming desktop operating system will require them to shell out a few bucks if they wish to snag it. Again, that’s not a bad thing per se, but it’s more about Microsoft sneakily editing the post without letting anyone know.

This is the second time Microsoft has backtracked on giving away Windows 10 for free to users who don’t have a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8.x. The company had previously told Reuters that it plans to give away Windows 10 for free to pirates, which it had later denied.

The company has failed to communicate how it plans to license Windows 10 among users. But just when we thought that it is now confirmed that Windows 10 Insiders with no genuine Windows license won’t be getting the final build for free, Gabe Aul had this to say on Twitter.

We’ve asked the company to clarify the matter to us, and it has requested for some time. The post will be updated when we there is any major development. Our apologies for forgetting Microsoft’s infamous history filled with backtracking, and failing to give the readers a heads up on such possibility.

Update 01:10 AM, June 23 IST: Gabe Aul has updated the blog post to clarify the following things:

  • Windows 10 will require you to have a genuine license of Windows 7/8.x in order to get a free upgrade.
  • Users in the Insider program will continue to receive builds as we move forward. On July 29, they will receive the full-fledged build which will be in line with what a consumer will get from the purchased Windows 10 copy. But testers will continue to receive builds after builds, as there always be a next build, and all the builds will have an expiry date.
  • Insiders can opt-out of the program and purchase a copy of Windows 10 and install it on their computers.

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Manish is pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering but spends more time in writing about technology. He has written for a number of Indian and international publications including BetaNews, BGR India, WinBeta, MakeTechEasier, MediaNama, and Digit magazine among others. When not writing, you would find him ranting about the state of digital journalism on Twitter.


13 thoughts on “Microsoft Sneakily Breaks Its Free Windows 10 Promise Again, Insiders With No Prior Genuine License Will Have to Pay [Update]

      • They’re in pre-launch testing. Believe it or not, they’re allowed adjust the way they release their product.

        • They are allowed to not even discuss these things either, but that’s not the point. They made a whole post posing to be doing a favor for Insiders who have been helping them beta test the product, and end up saying they are just like other customers. Even that was sneakily changed

    • That’s not the point of this article. The point is, why did Microsoft “say” that they are going to give it away free? That is what happened. Microsoft changed the wording of their blog to make changes to their policy.Why is this? And why say in the first place that it will be free to all? Those are interesting questions for us who like to “investigate” stories. My words are not so much sour grapes are they are curiosity about this company called Microsoft and their odd ways of coexisting in the world. My guess is that the evil is still alive and well.

    • Not necessarily about pirating. I’m PC by profession, Mac by choice. Been testing pre-release Win 10 in a VM on Mac laptop before deploying across enterprise machines. It’d be nice to retain legal rights for R&D purposes once they issue the final release.

      • If your client is having a hard time handing over $200 for a legitimate windows 8 license to use for your purposes, then I feel sorry for you.

  1. Sticking with Windows 8. Windows 10 sounds useless until I find myself with a program I can’t run on 8. Microsoft wants too much access to user data with Win10.

  2. What I think was supposed to happened. Insiders will get the RTM build
    as normal and it will be activated just like other builds were but if
    you leave the program after or during the RTM release you would have some proof of a previous windows 7 or 8.1 system to keep it activated. To keep track of who gets the insider activation you need a Microsoft insider account tied to your system. Of course this is just a theory.

  3. Giving windows 10 away free may help keep pirating to a minimum.If people really want it ,they can always get pirated copies..Gabe Aul says one thing and means another

  4. An employee made a post in a blog. I don’t think he speaks for all of Microsoft and their legal, marketing and licensing arms. Employees go into meetings all the time and things get lost in translation. I don’t know what they are trying to say here, but if they are on preview they get the licensed version? He misspoke and said a license? It was clear enough that a fresh install and a preview account would allow them access to the release version, and still seems to be the case.

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