Microsoft has made its final word on non-genuine Windows devices. They will not be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it becomes available this summer.
Terry Myerson, chief of Microsoft's operating systems unit, says in a blog post that owners of devices running on non-genuine Windows 8.1 devices will not be able to receive the free upgrade to Windows 10, despite earlier statements he made that Microsoft is planning to "re-engage" users of bootlegged Windows computers, millions of which are believed to be found in China.
"While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we've always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state," Myerson says.
This could mean that Microsoft plans to continue pushing regular notifications to users of non-genuine Windows to convince them to upgrade to genuine Windows 10 in the form of nagware. Non-genuine Windows will also have a watermark informing users that their devices are running on a pirated copy, and although Microsoft has issued updates even to non-genuine software in the past, Myerson says the unofficial copies have a "high risk of malware, fraud, public exposure of your personal information, and a higher risk for poor performance or feature malfunctions."
At the same time, Microsoft also plans to attract non-genuine users to upgrade to Windows 10 with a bunch of promos that will be launching in partnership with device manufacturers, though no details are available yet.
"We are planning very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers for their customers running one of their older devices in a Non-Genuine state," says Myerson.
Users of non-genuine Windows are not always guilty of piracy. In many instances, such as in China, users unknowingly purchase devices running on counterfeit software that its sellers pass off as legal, a reality that Microsoft itself and device makers know to exist.
"Microsoft and our OEM partners know that many consumers are unwitting victims of privacy," says Myerson, "and with Windows 10, we would like all of our customers to move forward with us together."
In March, Myerson announced at the WinHEC technology conference in China that it is making the one-year free upgrade to Windows 10 available to all qualified PCs, even those running on pirated software. This he also confirmed to Reuters and The Verge, saying that Microsoft believes that "customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies."