Microsoft takes extraordinary step, will give pirates free Windows 10 upgrade


Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 to users running pirated copies of earlier editions.

The company also narrowed the launch date of the upgrade to “this summer,” although it did not get more specific than that. Previously, the firm has said it would release Windows 10 this fall, which most experts interpreted as October because of past debut dates.

The company is going to upgrade “all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10,” Microsoft confirmed today, reiterating what Terry Myerson, the chief of Microsoft’s operating systems group, told Reuters. “Non-genuine” is Microsoft-speak for illegal copies.

The move would be unprecedented for Microsoft, which has spent years, devoted significant resources and developed numerous technologies to battle piracy, notably in the enormous Chinese market, where an estimated three-fourths of all installed software is pirated.

“They’ve done ‘get legal’ programs before, but those have always come with some kind of cost,” said Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner, referring to various initiatives, including one in 2007 aimed at prompting users to buy legitimate licenses.
Microsoft elaborated in a statement. “Anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Window 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows,” a company spokesperson said. “We believe customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies.”

It was unclear what limitations, if any, Microsoft meant with the “qualified device” comment.

The free Windows 10 upgrade will be offered to devices running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, but not those running older editions, including the now-retired Windows XP or its flop of a follow-up, Windows Vista.

The restrictions will leave a sizable minority of Chinese Windows-powered PCs out in the cold. According to Web analytics firm Net Applications, 38% of all personal computers in China ran Windows XP or Vista last month; a majority — 52% — ran Windows 7, while another 8% ran Windows 8 or 8.1.

“Microsoft is trying to build an ecosystem around Windows 10, and this would let them count the Windows devices running pirated copies,” said Silver when asked to speculate about Microsoft’s motivation for the move.

If Microsoft can entice hordes of consumers to upgrade to Windows 10, especially the huge numbers now running Windows 7, it will be able to build a bigger pool of potential customers for the services it shills as well as for apps from third-party developers. The lack of apps, caused in part by Windows 8’s fiasco, has branded Windows as an also-ran OS in a world where mobile is king, queen and court. To recover, Microsoft has pulled out the stops on Windows 10 uptake.

The free-to-pirates decision also meshes with the Redmond, Wash. firm’s revamped monetization strategy, which deemphasizes licensing revenue in favor of a “freemium” model where, for consumers at least, software and services are handed out free of charge with the expectation that money can be made on premium levels of functionality.

“This whole model is predicated, not on the notion that someone will pay you before they get to use your products, but on the complete opposite, that almost every one of your products … will have a free tier,” said Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s head of marketing, in an hour-long presentation Monday at the firm’s Convergence conference in Atlanta.

“The model is based on an increased market share for Windows 10,” said Silver. “[The free upgrade for non-genuine licenses] means more monetizing of the platform.”

While Microsoft has not said when it will officially release Windows 10, the new summer timetable could be a boon if the OS is available to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in time to fill the channel with new devices for the U.S. back-to-school season, the second-biggest sales period of the year. Typically, new Windows editions have missed back-to-school.

Also today, Myerson announced new partnerships with several Chinese companies to distribute Windows 10 upgrades, including computer maker Lenovo; China’s biggest social network, Tencent; and Qihu 360, a Chinese security firm also known for its 360 Secure Browser.

Lenovo will provide upgrade services at its 2,500 service centers in China, while Tencent and Qihu 360 will each directly offer the Windows 10 upgrade to their users. Both Tencent and Qihu 360 have huge numbers of customers in the People’s Republic: 800 million and over 500 million, respectively, Microsoft said.

Those partnerships with major Chinese technology firms, and the aimed-at-China Windows 10 upgrade offer, stood in contrast to recent troubles Microsoft has had in the country. Last year, antitrust regulators there targeted the U.S. company with incompatibility and bundling allegations.

And in the fourth quarter of 2014, revenue from China was surprisingly weak, Microsoft admitted. “Our results in China and Japan fell short of our expectations,” said CFO Amy Hood in a January call with Wall Street.

The problem with China, added CEO Satya Nadella, was due to “a set of geopolitical issues that we are working through,” an allusion to the antitrust investigation.



‘Scandal’ recap Season 4, Episode 15: ‘The testimony of Diego Muñoz’

By Bethonie Butler

Olivia’s back. But not really. Guillermo Diaz, Kerry Washington, Katie Lowes. (ABC/Nicole Wilder)
Allergy season, am I right?

This week’s “Scandal” had some really beautiful scenes that tugged at the heartstrings. Olivia’s neighbor, Lois, was finally given a proper sendoff. And Huck was forced to confront his past and what B613 did to his family.

Susan Ross, quirky senator and Mellie’s pet project, was there to help lighten the mood. The White House wasted no time in priming Susan to replace Andrew as VP and we got to see Abby and Leo Bergen coach her through the process.

[‘Scandal’ recap Season 4, Episode 14: ‘The Lawn Chair’]

Speaking of Abby and Leo: they’re dating and it’s pretty serious. Like, sharing a bed and openly wearing orthodontia serious.

Liv isn’t doing so well. We’re basically supposed to ignore the fact that she went straight back to work last week. She’s carrying a gun around her apartment, drinking wine on the floor (no judgement, though) and refusing to leave her apartment.

That is, until she gets a visit from Rose. Remember Rose? Or as Quinn puts it, the “Where’s the black lady,” lady. Rose shows up as the building owners are putting an eviction notice on Lois’s door because she hasn’t paid her rent. Liv, watching through the peephole in her door, has vivid memories of what happened to poor Lois, but she can’t bring herself to tell Rose.

[Why Marla Gibbs of “Scandal” and “The Jeffersons” won’t tell you her age]

Instead, Olivia reminds the messenger that Lois has five more days to pay her debt before they can legally evict her. When Rose asks if she’s talking to the nice lady that looks after Lois, Olivia lets her in. Rose explains that she and Lois talk every day and that she knows something is wrong. She asks Olivia to help her find out what happened to her friend.

That sends Olivia, begrudgingly, into the office, where Huck and Quinn gingerly applaud her for leaving her apartment. She tells them about Lois being shot and how the kidnappers placed her in the same body bag to get her out of apartment building unnoticed. She asks them to track the ambulance so they can find Lois’s body.
Rose offers another lead — the serial number on Lois’s replacement. Olivia figures out that Rose and Lois were more than friends. They’d fallen in love as teenagers, but were separated when Lois’s parents found out. “It was hard enough being black, let alone black and gay,” Rose tells Olivia. It was only after Lois’s husband died that they were reunited, with Rose moving to be close to Lois. She had a key to her apartment, but would’t move in because they disagreed on where to keep the temperature on the thermostat.

When Liv tells Rose that she needs time to find out what happened to Lois, Rose tells her: “I’ve waited over 40 years for my Lois, Ms. Pope. Believe me I can wait a bit longer.”

While Olivia focuses her efforts on finding Lois, Abby channels her former boss — helping Susan navigate her way to the vice presidency. Susan has pretty clear directives from The White House — play up the single mom thing and all the ways she relates to the American people. She’s doing great — until she gets the giggles at a press conference.

Enter Leo, who helps spin Susan’s annoying laugh/snort as part of the relatability that makes her such a great VP pick. But Leo, being Leo, takes it too far and Susan calls it all off. Abby, armed with bacon-topped salad, goes to Olivia to ask for help. Liv agrees — on the condition that she not set foot into the White House. She convinces Susan that she is what the American people need in their VP.

Can I take a quick break here and say that I do not like Leo and Abby together. Because I like David Rosen and Abby together. Dabby sounds so much better than Labby, by the way. That’s not to say that David has time for a relationship. In addition to his duties as Attorney General, David’s been holding office hours for his constituents, which generally means having to listen to conspiracy theories.

David looks a little concerned when he hears of his next appointment — a woman who says her husband was in a secret organization called B613. We’ve seen this woman before — it’s Kim, Huck’s wife! She explains that her husband, Diego Muñoz, has files that prove that B613 exists.
David goes to Jake and Huck with this very bad news — Kim wants him to go after B613. What she doesn’t know, of course, is that doing so would implicate him and others — including Olivia — in seriously criminal activity. Not to mention, put them all in serious danger. David and Jake wonder who this Diego Muñoz character is and why he would give these files to his wife. Huck rather calmly introduces himself and says that he’ll take care of the situation.

Huck tries to convince Kim not to go any further, but she’s convinced that Huck should testify about B613. Huck is torn between protecting his family and protecting his other family (namely Olivia). Huck and Kim meet with David, who expects Huck to pretend that he remembers nothing about B613. Huck starts out that way, but between the hopeful look on his wife’s face and flashbacks of their life together, he can’t continue to lie. So he compromises with a vivid description of his time in the hole — down to the dimensions of the space and how he imagined writing a letter to his wife and son everyday.

Huck’s confession may not bode well for David, Olivia or his fellow B613 alums, but it looks like it might help him reconnect with his wife and son. And it inspires David to pursue the case. “I”m going to get the bad guys,” he tells Jake, who reminds him that they are the bad guys. “Not anymore,” David says.

In other corners of the government, Susan is actually quite charming in her confirmation hearing! There’s one snag: Congress is still pretty peeved at Fitz for declaring war on West Angola, days after he said he wouldn’t declare war on West Angola. Olivia ends up making a trip to the White House, where she convinces Fitz to put aside his pride and apologize. “You made a mockery of democracy,” she tells him. “You know why I did it” he says. Abby and Cyrus look very uncomfortable.

As she hurries out of the White House, Liv gets the call — Lois has been found, thanks to the serial number on her hip replacement. Olivia tells Rose that Lois died peacefully and without pain, on a park bench in Georgetown, with her face toward the sun. There are flashbacks of both Jake and Fitz as Rose cries over Lois’s casket. When Rose cries, we all cries. “It’s still too soon,” she says. “Things ain’t never gonna be the same without you.”
Olivia is moved by Rose’s grief — and her devotion to Lois. She returns home, where she promptly throws out the wine-stained couch cushion that reminds her of her kidnapping. She pops a really big bowl of popcorn (like the biggest bowl I’ve ever seen in my life) and pours herself a glass of wine.

I think Olivia Pope might actually be back.

Lingering questions: Is Mellie’s Susan Ross plan going to backfire? Or rephrased: When is Mellie’s Susan Ross plan going to backfire? How is David Rosen going to go after B613? And how is Rowan going to try and stop him?


Here's how Windows 10 upgrade paths will work


Microsoft is promising a fairly painless upgrade path to Windows 10, provided users have been keeping their existing versions up to date.

If you’re running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1 S14 (that’s the “Windows 8.1 Update” from last April), you’ll be able to get Windows 10 straight from the Control Panel’s Windows Update utility. In other words, you won’t have to mess around with installation disks, and all your files and programs will remain intact.

Your data won’t be erased if you’re running an older version of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, but you’ll have to download an ISO and create an installation disk. It’s just a little more of a hassle.


In either case, upgrading to Windows 10 will be free, as long as you make the jump in the first year after launch. Windows Vista and Windows XP users with compatible hardware can buy an upgrade to Windows 10, but this will require a clean install that erases all programs and files.

What about Windows Phone? Microsoft is apparently referring to this version as “Windows Mobile 10,” and says anyone running Windows Phone 8.1 will be eligible. The process will be similar to how smaller upgrades work, with the software being delivered over the air.

Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t providing an upgrade path for users stuck on Windows Phone 8.0. Windows RT devices such as the non-Pro Surface and Surface 2 will also be left out, though they may get some Windows 10-like features as part of a separate update.

Microsoft revealed the upgrade paths during its WinHEC conference in Shenzhen, China. The company also announced that users of pirated Windows versions will be able to get a legit copy of Windows 10 at no charge .

Why this matters: Microsoft clearly wants to move lots of people onto the latest version of its operating system and introduce them to services such as Cortana, OneDrive, and the Windows Store. But even with the lure of free upgrades, users might not budge if the process is overly complicated and involves deleting data. This new information suggests that the upgrade should be simple enough for pretty much anyone who wants to take advantage.