Microsoft has quietly updated its policy over who gets a free copy of Windows 10 when the software launches July 29. Whereas before all Insider Program beta testers could expect to receive a free copy, the new policy casts doubt over whether testers without a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 would be included.
A blog post describing the program initially said testers would “receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated,” but the “remain activated” has been quietly removed. The post now also states, “It’s important to note that only people running Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 as part of the free upgrade offer,” with an asterisk saying that more information can be found at Windows.com. The clarification contrasts with what Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul said just on Friday -- that all Insider installations would be automatically upgraded to genuine final copies later on.
The blog post policy may be drawing a distinction between “the free upgrade offer” and receiving Windows 10 for free via the Insider program. The offer as laid out on Windows.com allows genuine 7 or 8.1 users to reserve a copy from the taskbar, which would be technically different to the upgrade path laid out by the Insider program. This may mean that while the software would appear genuine, corporations seeking to receive a free license for Windows 10 would not be able to upgrade from the Insider program. Ars Technica notes that, in a software audit, this method of upgrading may no longer be seen as a legitimate path.
It seems possible that the two statements are not contradictory, but Microsoft is doing little to clarify in plain English who gets what and how. The Verge was also confused when Microsoft told them back in March that non-genuine users would be able to “get genuine” with an upgrade from the Windows Store, but without clarifying whether that would be free or not. Microsoft later clarified that pirates would have to pay.
Update: Microsoft has now edited the blog post to clarify their stance. The Windows Insider program is continuing after the launch of Windows 10. Users who are happy to stay in the program will continue receiving preview builds as they become available, but users who wish to stay on the launch version of Windows 10 when it becomes available will be subject to the offer as described on the Windows website. That means if a user wishes to no longer receive beta builds after the launch of Windows 10, they will need to have a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 if they want to stay with the launch version of Windows 10 for free.