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Microsoft muddies waters about free copy of Windows 10 to beta testers

Gregg Keizer | June 22, 2015
Microsoft on Friday said Windows 10 beta testers will receive a free copy of the operating system's stable build next month then almost immediately tweaked its statement, again muddying the waters.

Aul's reference to build 10130 may mean that the window of opportunity for the free Windows 10 will shut once that is superseded by the next iteration.

More interesting, however, was an addition to Aul's blog made between its Friday debut and late Saturday: "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."

That line was tacked onto the end of the paragraph in which Aul had described the process by which Insider participants would be able to obtain the stable release on July 29, and that all testers -- whether they upgraded from Windows 7 or 8.1 or installed the preview on a wiped drive or VM -- would be able to run Windows 10 free of charge.

The blog post was also edited, removing the word "activated" from the original. The initial post said, "As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh [emphasis added]."

The revamped post deleted the words in bold above.

Microsoft's (or Aul's) changes threw doubt onto the statements Aul had made. He did not reply to a question posed via Twitter late Saturday about whether the process as he outlined still stood.

The removal of "activation" -- and the new line with the term "genuine" in it -- signaled that it did not. The simplest explanation is that while Microsoft will, in fact, give testers the stable build, it will not be activated with a product key, and thus "non-genuine" in Microsoft parlance, unless some other step is taken, perhaps a connection to a prior copy of Windows 7 or 8.1.

Non-genuine copies of Windows are marked as such with a watermark. Microsoft has not revealed what other restrictions might be placed on an unactivated or non-genuine copy of Windows 10.

Interpretation gymnastics are virtually required when parsing Microsoft's statements. Microsoft chooses its words carefully, and when it does disclose information, often does so in parcels that are by turns opaque, ambiguous and confusing to customers. That frequently forces it to retract or modify earlier comments.

Something similar occurred earlier this year when Microsoft seemed to say that non-genuine copies would be upgraded to legitimate versions of Windows 10. Days later the company walked back from that stance, saying that the free Windows 10 upgrade offer "will not apply to non-genuine Windows devices."

 

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