How you'll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, even with pirated copies

This chart shows whether you'll be able to upgrade directly to Windows 10 via an ISO or Windows Update

Credit: Microsoft

As we get closer to Windows 10 finally being released, we're learning more details about upgrading to the new OS. Among the new announcements: upgrades will be free to all current Windows users, even those running pirated copies. Pirated or not, here's how you'll be able to upgrade to the next version of Windows.

windows10 upgrade path Microsoft/screenshot by Neowin

As the chart above, shared at a Microsoft conference in China suggests, Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 S14--those with the latest versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1--will be able to streamline the update process through Windows Update.

Most others from Windows 7 and above will be able to upgrade directly with an ISO, but Windows RT looks to be dead. Other earlier versions of Windows will have to do a clean install with an ISO (probably a good idea anyway).

If you're wondering how Microsoft can afford to give Windows away for free--particularly to users who didn't even purchase the previous OS in the first place--you're not alone. The Verge muses that it's all about drawing you into their ecosystem, which includes OneNote, Office, OneDrive, Cortana, Bing, Skype, and a bunch of other products. Maybe it's like the AOL approach of sending everyone discs of the free software to get us hooked.

Either way, if you're using the latest version of Windows 7 or 8, upgrading should be a breeze. [h/t Neowin]

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