Last week, Reuters posted on Microsoft’s plans to offer free upgrades to users of pirated software in China, quoting Windows President Terry Myerson:
“We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10,” he said in a telephone interview with Reuters. The plan is to “re-engage” with the hundreds of millions of users of Windows in China, he said, without elaboration.
The news hit the blogosphere with a vengeance, and Microsoft quickly pulled back from the pronouncement, issuing a statement reiterating the current state of affairs:
“We have always been committed to ensuring that customers have the best Windows experience possible. With Windows 10, although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license. Non-Genuine Windows is not published by Microsoft. It is not properly licensed, or supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner. If a device was considered non-genuine or mislicensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mislicensed after the upgrade.
However, in checking with Reuters, they stood by their story and the quote, and today, Rafe Needleman at Yahoo Tech posted on his interview with Aaron Woodman, a Senior Director of product marketing at Microsoft, who seemed to be backtracking a bit on the backtrack:
Around the world, many of Windows’ 1.5 billion users are using pirated — or, in Microsoft’s lingo, “non-genuine” — licenses of Windows. Woodman said that “many don’t even know it.”
Microsoft’s goal is to get all Windows “customers” to take advantage of the upgrade offer and to get them on the most current, most secure version of the operating system. “There’s a lot of value in the ecosystem,” Woodman said. “There are a lot of future paying customers. Those customers are valuable to Windows.”
So what is it? Will Microsoft simply stick with its current policy of not supporting non-genuine Windows? Or are Myerson, and now Woodman, hinting that a change may be in the works? Are those millions of potential customers of Microsoft services are too lucrative to pass up?
What we’re hearing is that Microsoft is still working through all this, and if we had to guess, we’d say that Myerson perhaps spoke too soon, but it’s hard to believe he just pulled the notion that the company would support non-genuine Windows out of his hat. Whether or not Microsoft allows a state-of-license change with an upgrade, or offers some other form of amnesty, or comes up with a different plan to upgrade non-genuine users, we think it’s looking seriously at ways to legitimize non-genuine Windows in places like China where use of pirated software is the norm.
Leaving all those pirated Windows users out in the cold without the ability to benefit from Windows 10 and modern Microsoft services doesn’t serve the customer, or open up the revenue stream for Microsoft. We haven’t heard the last of the company’s plans for getting non-genuine Windows users upgraded to Windows 10, that’s for sure.Further reading: Microsoft, Piracy, Windows, Windows 10