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Microsoft tweaks Windows 10 preview program as it enters OS's final stretch

Gregg Keizer | June 22, 2015
Microsoft on Friday said it would soon tweak the Windows 10 preview program as its engineers push toward the July 29 launch of the final code to customers.

Windows 10 Enterprise will be available only to organizations and enterprises that have a current Windows volume licensing agreement that includes Software Assurance, the commercial annuity-style program that, among other benefits, allows for free OS upgrades.

Because Microsoft will continue to update the Insider branch after the stable release next month -- and since Aul promised that the preview would "remain activated," Redmond lingo for a legitimate license -- the company has left open a loophole that users can leverage to obtain Windows 10 for free, even if they don't have an eligible copy of Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update on their device.

Although the loophole is reminiscent of ones Microsoft left open in the past, it's considerably less important because Microsoft will allow Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate, as well as Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro, to upgrade to the corresponding version of Windows 10 free of charge for one year following the July 29 debut.

Still, some users can take advantage of the preview to equip older-but-still compatible PCs -- those running Windows Vista or perhaps even XP -- and virtual machines with a free copy of Windows 10 now, and be assured of post-launch updates, without having to fork over $119 to $199 later for a retail copy of the new OS.

Aul did not say when the next Insider build would be issued, mentioning only "soon." The current build 10130 shipped May 29, although several subsequent builds have leaked to the Internet, including 10147 last week. That build included the name change for the bundled browser, which was once called Project Spartan but officially tapped as Edge in late April.

Users can sign up with the Insider program and download and install Windows 10, including via an .iso format disk image suitable for installing in a virtual machine, from Microsoft's website.

 

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