Windows 10 for pirated copies? Yes. For free? Maybe not

There has been a lot of talk lately about Windows 10, considering it will land in users' hands by Summer this year. One of the most talked about point, however, is the possibility that the upgrade might be available for pirated copies of older versions, particularly Windows XP. And they might even get it for free like other legitimate Windows owners. In a practice of perfect PR ambiguity, Microsoft has "clarified" its plans for owners of non-genuine Windows copies, but at the same time, leaves some of the important questions still unanswered.

Speaking to the Verge, Microsoft says that even such users will indeed get access to a genuine copy of Windows 10, moving them from pirated to legit. That much is already known really. The real question is how. This is what Redmond had to say:

"We will provide a mechanism for non-genuine Windows 10 PC devices to 'get genuine' via the new Windows Store, whether they are upgraded versions of Windows or purchased."

So yes, they will be able to upgrade to Windows 10, but they have to do it through the Windows Store. Alternatively, they could also purchase a full copy of the OS, which might be the only option for those coming from older versions that don't have a direct upgrade path.

What Microsoft isn't saying, however, is whether that upgrade option will come for free or with a fee. The ambiguous wording does seem to suggest the former. If that's the case, however, we should probably expect that copies of Windows 10 coming from non-genuine origins could be crippled in some way, just to keep things fair for those who actually paid for Windows 7 or Windows 8. Currently, Microsoft doesn't fully lock down non-genuine copies and even provides crucial security updates. It does, however, withhold some features, limit customization, and constantly nag such users about their use of pirated software. That could very well be the same strategy that Microsoft will employ in order to keep a balance between getting these people to get a genuine copy and helping Windows 10 spread everywhere.