Last week, Microsoft announced that pirates will be able to upgrade their existing copy of Windows to Windows 10 free of charge, but then quickly backtracked and clarified that while the upgrade to Windows 10 will be possible, it won’t give pirates a genuine license.
What began as an internal discussion around how many of our readers will be affected by Microsoft’s decision to not grant pirates a genuine copy of Windows 10, turned into a poll, and the results are in. Almost 2000 of you (1925 to be exact) voted letting us know where you obtained their copy of Windows from.
As it turns out, most of our readers (38%) got their hands on Windows along with a new PC, so the cost of a Windows license was included with the cost of the device they purchased, be it a new desktop, laptop, or tablet.
17% said they bought a retail/boxed copy of Windows to install on their computers, and another 16% said that they bought Windows online, either directly from Microsoft.com or from other online stores we assume. We know that some schools and workplaces will provide Windows to their students and employees, sometimes for free and sometimes for a nominal fee and 13% of you stated that that is how you obtained your copy.
So in general, 84% of our readership legally obtained Windows and are running a genuine copy, which is a very good number. Once Windows 10 is released you should have no issues upgrading and retaining your genuine license.
As for the other 16% who have downloaded Windows via shady means, we strongly recommend you purchase a genuine license. The pre-activated copies of Windows you obtained from torrent sites can easily include malicious software that will put your private information at risk.
(Superfish, which was preinstalled by Lenovo, is a small example of what seemingly safe software is truly capable of)
A recent study from research firm IDC concluded that the chances of getting infected with tracking spyware, trojans, and malicious adware are 1 out of 3 if you download pirated software. You can check out the full study on the dangers of pirated software here.
“The dangers from counterfeit software are real. For consumers, it is not just lost time and money to fix the problem but also the risk of lost data and identity theft. For enterprises and governments, it is time and money better spent on other things, lost business and reputation from data breaches, and threats to critical infrastructure.” - IDC
If there’s a good time to buy Windows, it’s now. Microsoft announced that it will provide Windows 10 “as a service”, meaning that users will continue to enjoy feature updates down the line without having to wait for a new version of Windows to come out, and without having to purchase a new license.
Buying Windows is a relatively easy process, if you are uncomfortable paying $199 for Windows 8.1 from the Microsoft Store, you can always head over to sites like Amazon.com (or its regional sites) and download Windows for a discounted price ($89.99 as of today). If you are a student, Microsoft sells Windows 8.1 for an even cheaper $69.99. You could even opt to buy Windows 7 on the cheap and still be eligible to upgrade to genuine Windows 10 for free once it launches. Microsoft has also confirmed that it intends to allow those on the Windows 10 Technical Preview to upgrade to the final version, but we are unsure at this time if that will require a license purchase.
Always use genuine Windows and keep your PC up-to-date with the latest security updates. You may not think that you have anything of value worth stealing on your PC, but having your identity stolen is not something worth risking. It’s no pleasant experience when someone gets a hold of your passwords and proceeds to wreak havoc on your finances, social networks and personal contacts. It can be very damaging. Better safe than sorry.