When Microsoft’s Gabe Aul put up a blog attempting to clarify some of the licensing requirements around Windows 10, all it did was inflame the matter and send the Internet into a tizzy. While most of us that read Aul’s blog posting surmised that Windows Insiders that linked their Microsoft Account (MSA) would receive Windows 10 for free without needing a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 license, Aul indicates that this isn’t entirely accurate.
In an update posted today, Aul explains that there are two ways to get a free upgrade to Windows 10. The first route, which we already knew, is to have a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 license. When July 29 rolls around, you can use your active license to either download Windows 10 to perform an upgrade of your current operating system or carry out a clean install (please, PLEASE, choose the latter option).
As Aul explains, “If your system upgraded from a Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license it will remain activated, but if not, you will be required to roll back to your previous OS version or acquire a new Windows 10 license. If you do not roll back or acquire a new license the build will eventually expire.”
The second method clarifies what was originally posted on Friday, June 19. Windows Insiders can upgrade to Windows 10 RTM for free without a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 license. But the caveat here is that you can’t just install Windows 10 RTM and hope to opt-out of the Windows Insider program without a valid license.
If you wish to continue using Windows 10 for free, you will have to continue receiving prerelease builds on a continual basis (Slow or Fast ring) to maintain an active Windows 10 license. So in essence, Microsoft is allowing you to “use” Windows 10 for free while it uses you as a guinea pig for future Windows 10 builds.
“Each individual build will expire after a time, but you’ll continue to receive new builds so by the time an older prerelease build expires you’ll have received a new one,” Aul continues. “Since we’re continuing the Windows Insider Program you’ll be able to continue receiving builds and those builds will continue to be activated under the terms of the Windows Insider Program.”
As to all the hoopla surrounding the original post, Aul concludes, “I regret that this caused confusion about who was or was not eligible for the Windows 10 upgrade offer, but hope that this helps to clarify.”