Software pirating is nothing new, especially in China, where an estimated 9 out of 10 copies of the Windows operating system are pirated copies. That’s a staggering statistic as a lay observer, and for Microsoft, it’s an obstacle to penetrating an otherwise giant market. So rather than cook up new forms of DRM to combat piracy (which would only get cracked eventually), they decided to take away the pirates’ advantage—Windows 10 will be a free upgrade, even if you’re currently running a pirated copy.
We already talked about how Windows 10 was going to be free for current users of Windows 7 and 8, but this next step shows just how serious Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is about making the Windows platform ubiquitous and accessible (so that it can be a launchpad for selling other goods and services). Regardless of the company’s endgame, however, it’s a big win for consumers, especially hobbyists who prefer to build their own computers. With a Windows license typically running north of $100, being able to score a free, legitimate copy of the OS is a big boon for people with tight budgets for a build.
For those curious to see what the new Windows 10 will be like, you can check out the Windows 10 Preview, available now from Microsoft. Note that it is very much a prerelease version, meaning it can and will have bugs, and you shouldn’t install it on your primary machine. If you don’t have a solid technical background with computers, just wait for the final release slated for sometime in the summer of this year.