When Microsoft launches Windows 10 this summer, even users of pirated copies of the operating system will be able to upgrade.
Windows 10 will be debuting this summer, Microsoft announced on March 18 at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) summit in Shenzhen, China.
Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft's operating system group, said in a statement: "Windows 10 will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages."
The Redmond, Wash.-based company reiterated that the OS will be a free upgrade for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users for a year after it launches.
Microsoft is also readying upgrade services in China with partners Lenovo, Tencent and Qihu 360 (an Internet security company). Lenovo is expected "to offer Windows 10 upgrade services at 2,500 service centers and select retail stores in China when the Windows 10 upgrade is available," stated Myerson. The Chinese device maker also plans to build Window 10 phones that will be available via China Mobile by midyear.
And in a surprising reversal of the company's anti-piracy policies, even those who have never paid a penny for Windows will be able to upgrade their systems to the new OS when it launches, consequence-free.
"Anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Windows 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows," the Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK
. "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."
The new policy is worldwide, according to the spokesperson.
Microsoft's highly-anticipated Windows 10 OS
will power a variety of devices and device types, including PCs, tablets, smartphones and its own Xbox video game and media streaming console. The company is branching out even further by targeting the growing market for connected Internet of things (IoT) devices.
"For the first time, a new version of Windows for small-footprint IoT devices will be available—for free—when Windows 10 launches," stated Myerson. "Windows 10 will offer versions of Windows for a diverse set of IoT devices, ranging from powerful devices like ATMs and ultrasound machines, to resource-constrained devices like gateways."
Of note, WinHEC also served as the debut of the DragonBoard 410C from Qualcomm, which Myerson described as "the first Windows 10 developer board with integrated WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS, and a smartphone-class Snapdragon 410 chipset." Windows 10 will also power the company's 84-inch, 4K smart whiteboard-teleconferencing combo dubbed the Surface Hub
and its futuristic augmented-reality headset called HoloLens.
Among the new features is Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, and a new Web browser code-named Project Spartan. Microsoft caused a stir this week at another conference, Convergence in Atlanta, when a company executive said it is ditching the long-lived Internet Explorer brand for the new browser.
Despite the move, Internet Explorer isn't going away completely
, according to Microsoft's Charles Morris, program manager lead for Project Spartan. The new browser's "rendering engine was designed with Project Spartan in mind, but will also be available in Internet Explorer on Windows 10 for enterprises and other customers who require legacy extensibility support," he revealed in a Feb. 26 blog post