Nevertheless and seemingly against the odds, easily copied items are doing well through official channels. China reportedly fueled record global box-office revenues in 2014 and even has official Hollywood movies available online before they air in the United States, ostensibly to beat piracy.
And today brings yet more good news for Chinese citizens who prefer not to pay for their content. When it arrives later in the year, Microsoft are going to gift free upgrades of Windows 10 not only to those who purchased Windows 7 and Windows 8, but also to those who pirated them.
Speaking from the WinHEC technology conference in Shenzhen, China, Terry Myerson, who runs Microsoft’s operating systems unit, said the plan was aimed at bringing the currently non-paying back on board.
“We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10,” Myerson told Reuters. “The plan is to ‘re-engage’ with the hundreds of millions of users of Windows in China,” he said.
In January this year Microsoft said it would offer free upgrades of Windows 10 to legitimate users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 but this is the first time that pirates will be given an official free pass.
The big question now is how this news will be received in the West. In the United States, for example, pirate users of Windows 7 and 8 will be expected to pay top dollar for Microsoft’s newest OS if they too want to jump aboard the legit train. That may raise hackles.
However, the fact that Chinese pirate users will get a free upgrade of Windows 10 could open up avenues for Western pirates to masquerade as their Eastern counterparts in order to avoid paying. Exactly how that will play out will remain to be seen, but it’s more than likely that a ‘pirate’ solution will be found, one way or another.
In the meantime many pirates will remain with their current operating system until a stable version of Windows 10 becomes available, whether that hails from China or elsewhere.
Update: Microsoft has confirmed that all pirates, wherever they’re located, will get a free upgrade.