Yes, Windows Insiders will upgrade for free to Windows 10, regardless whether they had a copy of Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 running in their PCs. On June 19th, Microsoft published a new article at the official Windows Blog stating that Insiders will be able to upgrade for free to Windows 10 and “remain activated” as long they are running a preview of the operating system and they are connected with Microsoft Account participating the in the Windows Insider program.
On June 20th, the company edited the article removing the mention of “remain activated”, which added more confusion to the company’s plans on offering Windows 10 to Insiders. However, it appears that the company only modified the article only for legal purposes and to minimize the spread of websites writing “how to get Windows 10 for free”, as the company is offering a free upgrade to Windows 10 for those users running a valid Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.
On June 21st, Microsoft Gabriel Aul, further clarified that Insiders will get a genuine, Windows 10 upgrade for free.
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) June 21, 2015
But, the loophole still there, as if you put your ethics aside, you can technically build a new PC, install one of the Windows 10 previews and upgrade to the final version at no extra cost. And yes, it will remain activated, even if you performed a clean installation using a preview of the operating system. In addition, you’ll be able to do a clean install using the ISO files of Windows 10.
Perhaps this will also help to get many Windows XP and Windows Vista machines upgraded to Windows 10, as they don’t qualify for the free upgrade.
The loophole, not only applies to PC, but Mac too, as people running Apple’s operating system have the chance to test Windows 10 and upgrade to the final version for free. This is done by one of two ways, either use the preview operating system on a virtual machine or install Windows 10 preview using Boot Camp, and the software will update automatically starting July 29th, and it will remain fully activated.
This might look like a big deal, but it’s not, as most Windows Insiders were already running a valid version of Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, and chances are that only a small number of registered users had pirated versions of the operating system.
So, yes, some users will get a **free** copy of Windows 10, but Microsoft is focusing in its own agenda, which is running Windows 10 on a billion devices within the first three years of its release, and every PC count.
Making users roll back to the previous version of Windows to then upgrade to the final version of Windows 10 adds additional steps that could cause users not to upgrade, and Microsoft needs to convince many people that Windows 10 is easy and it’s worth the upgrade.
Technically, it’s a way of Microsoft to say thanks to the millions of people who participated in the Windows Insider program and will continue to participate. Additionally, the move will make even easier to jump to Windows 10 and activate without hassles.
Basically, Microsoft could say that Windows 10 is free, but the fact is that it’s not, as business do not qualify to the free upgrade. They will still have to pay for the Enterprise edition licenses and PC builders will continue to pay for OEM copies. Even though, anyone can simply buy the parts build a PC, install Windows 10 Pro preview, and install the final release.
Update, June 22, 2015: Microsoft once again updates its statement clarifying that the Windows Insider program isn’t a path to obtain a free a license of Windows 10, as Insiders will simply keep getting new builds of the operating system that are under development, which is a not a true full version of Windows 10, just a pre-release — nonetheless, the operating system will be free for Insiders. Here is all the updated info.
Update, August 1st, 2016: Microsoft has recently announced an extension to get the free upgrade of Windows 10, which is only meant for people using accessibility technologies, but the extension also works for any computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Update, August 4th, 2016: Although the promotional offer has ended many users report that Windows 10 still activates after the deadline with a Windows 7 or 8.1 product key.