Microsoft has announced that it will be offering Windows 10 as a free update for all Windows users, including those that use nongenuine and pirated versions of Windows.

This means that anyone running Windows 7 or 8.1 will be able to upgrade to Microsoft's new operating system. But why has Microsoft decided to offer Windows 10 for free?

The move is certainly a change for Microsoft, which has traditionally charged quite a lot of money for updated operating systems. This is in contrast to the likes of Apple, which has been offering updates for free for the last few years, and before that sold updates for a very affordable price.

The announcement was first made in China earlier this year, and it has since been confirmed that a free upgrade for Windows 10 will, in fact, be offered free around the world to customers running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 who upgrade in the first year after launch.

It seems as though the move is designed to boost legitimate usage of Windows 10, especially in China, where the majority of users run pirated versions of Windows. In fact, in 2011, Steve Ballmer, who was the CEO of Microsoft, said that 90 percent of Chinese customers were using pirated versions of Windows.

It is likely that this is the path that Microsoft will take from now on with its operating system, releasing it as a free update for those that want it. The decision makes sense. When Windows 8 first came out, many expressed frustration with the operating system, causing Windows 7 users to stick with Windows 7 rather than upgrading.

Microsoft will be turning to its other services to make money, such as Skype, Office and other software subscriptions. Not only that, but it will continue to earn through its Bing search engine, which makes money through advertising.

In fact, offering Windows 10 free of charge could create a big advantage for Microsoft. Windows has typically remained very fragmented, with millions of users still running Windows XP, which many consider to be the best and most stable Windows operating system. Offering updates for free will encourage users to upgrade, ideally resulting in the majority of users running the same operating system. This will help the company advance its mission to execute a server-based, cloud-centric future for Windows, which would not be possible if most users were staying with outdated operating systems.

Windows 10 is expected by many to be Microsoft's best operating system to date, and with it now being free it will likely be the most popular within a short amount of time.

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