When we had first heard that people with (legitimate) versions of Windows 7 or better running on their PCs would be getting a free upgrade to Windows 10 in the first year, we were cautiously ecstatic. When we heard a couple days ago that even people with pirated copies of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 could get in on some Windows 10 action for free too, we thought it sounded too good to be true. Because it is. And it isn't.
It was posited at the time that this was Microsoft's way to offer amnesty to people with unlicensed versions of Windows to get back on the legitimate side of the equation, particularly in China where three-quarters of software is pirated. We had heard that this program would also be extended globally. As it turns out, this is only partly true.
The good news is that if you are running a pirated version of Windows 7 or better, you will indeed be able to upgrade to Windows 10 "for free" and without a hitch. The bad news is that your copy of Windows 10 still won't be all that legitimate and you'll still be viewed as a pirate in Microsoft's eyes. That being said, Microsoft says that it will offer a way for you to get the proper license through the Windows Store... which probably means it won't be free anymore, though they weren't exactly specific or explicit about that.
“Although non-Genuine PCs might be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license. This applies across geographies. Customers that are improperly licensed before the upgrade will be improperly licensed after the upgrade. 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. We will have details on this as we get closer to launch.”
And "closer to launch" won't take that long either, as Windows 10 is poised to arrive this summer. So, pirates can still keep their fingers hovering over the upgrade button and Microsoft can keep hoping that they'll make piracy less appealing. After all, the supposed goal here is to get more people on a legitimate version of Windows 10 so that Microsoft can start selling you on legitimate OneDrive upgrades, Office 365 subscriptions and Skype calling credits.