After speculation that Microsoft may offer the same free Windows 10 upgrade path to owners of non-genuine copies of Windows, Executive Vice President of the Operating Systems group Terry Myerson confirmed that only genuine Windows users can upgrade for free.
"While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we've always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state," Myserson said in a blog post, cautioning that non-genuine copies of Windows carry greater risks of malfunction, malware, fraud and data exposure.
This means that owners of non-genuine copies of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 can pay to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though Microsoft had recently announced the various versions of Windows 10, it still has not announced pricing.
Is your copy legitimate?
If you're running Windows, and you see a watermark on your desktop, Microsoft says that your system may be running a non-genuine copy of the operating system.
Myerson advises that if you have recently purchased your system and you encounter the watermark, you should return the device to the retailer.
Free for genuine copies
If you have purchased a genuine copy of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, or if your PC ships from an OEM with a genuine Windows license, then you'll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free within the first year of release.
Windows 10 is expected to be released this summer, and Microsoft reps and partners have hinted that the launch could be as early as July.
Windows 10 will ship with many new features and upgrades, including Continuum for seamless hand-off between tablet or desktop modes for hybrid laptops, Cortana, the new Microsoft Edge browser and other security enhancements.
"Once a customer upgrades, they will continue to receive ongoing Windows innovation and security updates for free, for the supported lifetime of that device," Microsoft said. The company is changing its Windows strategy, offering Windows 10 as a service.
If you're running a PC that came with a licensed copy of Windows earlier than Windows 7, Microsoft says it is working with OEMs to create an affordable upgrade path to Windows 10. Unfortunately, owners of versions of Windows prior to Windows 7 will not be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
Official announcements should come from Microsoft's OEM partners like HP, Lenovo, Dell and others.
Microsoft will give enterprise users more control and flexibility on how to upgrade to Windows 10 and when to apply security updates, patches and new releases to the OS.
Businesses will be given the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 through Microsoft's Windows Software Assurance program.
- Read our review of Office 2016
Article continues below