Initially it appeared as though the policy would only extend to pirates in China, but Microsoft has since confirmed that the offer is open to anyone who is currently using an illegal version of Windows, writes Chris Smith for Yahoo. However, the policy may not be the passport to a free, legitimate Windows upgrade that many were hoping for.

Windows 10 Microsoft

Free Windows upgrade, but no license change

Given the previous lack of specific details, rumors abounded that it would be possible to install an older, pirated version of Windows on a device and simply wait for the release of Windows 10. Now Microsoft has stated that although the operating system will be upgraded, the computer will still be considered non-genuine.

“With Windows 10, although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license…” the company told Ars Technica. “If a device was considered non-genuine or mislicensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mislicensed after the upgrade.”

Microsoft did not say what repercussions may result from a Windows 10 upgrade on a non-licensed device, which may cause pirates to think twice about taking the company up on what once sounded like an amazingly generous offer.

Windows 10: Changing business model

Windows 10 ushers in a new business model for Microsoft, moving towards Windows as a service rather than the huge source of income that it has been in past incarnations. The large up-front cost of a Windows license will be reduced in favor of leveraging services such as Skype, Office 365 and Software Assurance subscriptions.

The thinking behind the move to offer free Windows 10 upgrades is to get everyone on the same platform, which is crucial to the success of the new business model. Free upgrades for all, and an uneasy truce with the pirates, should at least be effective in getting Microsoft users to move over to Windows 10 and encouraging the development of Windows as a service.