Free Win10 upgrade, even for fakes
IN AN unprecedented move, Microsoft said that it will be offering this summer free upgrades of Windows 10 to all Windows users, regardless of whether they are running genuine copies of the software.
It was initially reported that this applied to the heavily pirated consumer computing market in China.
But when asked if the move applied to Singapore and other countries as well, Microsoft told My Paper yesterday: "Anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Windows 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows.
"We believe customers, over time, will realise the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies."
For China, Microsoft's move is an attempt to get legitimate versions of its software onto machines of the hundreds of millions of Windows users in China. Recent studies showed that three-quarters of all PC software are not properly licensed there.
Software piracy in Singapore has remained steady. Some 32 per cent of software used in homes and offices here in 2013 was pirated, down slightly from 33 per cent in 2011, said market research firm IDC Asia Pacific.
Microsoft said it will be releasing Windows 10 globally in 190 countries, including Singapore, in summer, earlier than expected.
This means the operating system, available in 111 languages, could arrive between end June and early September, HardwareZone.com.sg said.
This is the first time Microsoft has put a timeframe on the release, although it had been expected in autumn, based on Microsoft's release history. Windows 10 was first showcased in September last year.
Microsoft said in January it would offer free upgrades to Windows 10 for users of Windows 7 or later, in an attempt to hold onto users, and make up for lost revenue by selling services such as Office over the Internet, reported Reuters.
Windows 10, which works not just on computers but also tablets and phones, will be a free upgrade for recent Windows-based mobile gadgets as well, such as Windows Phone 8.1 handsets. But it is not clear if Windows RT mobile devices can be upgraded.
Microsoft also said it is working with Chinese handset-maker Xiaomi Technology - which generally uses a form of Google's Android on its devices - to offer some customers a test version of Windows 10 on its smartphones.
Lenovo said in a statement that it will make phones running on Windows software, available through China Mobile, some time this year.
Windows 10 will allow users to sign in to a device without a password by using biometrics, including facial recognition.
Microsoft said on Tuesday its Windows Hello feature will support biometric authentication as part of an effort to reduce the use of passwords, which can often be hacked, Agence France-Presse reported.
This means "using your face, iris or fingerprint to unlock your devices," Microsoft vice-president Joe Belfiore said in a blog post.
"You - uniquely you - plus your device are the keys to your Windows experience, apps, data and even websites and services, not a random assortment of letters and numbers that are easily forgotten, hacked, or written down and pinned to a bulletin board."
The move comes following a wave of reports about hacking into databases, which can lead to identity theft and other crimes.
Apple and Samsung have already begun putting fingerprint sensors on their smartphones, and other types of biometrics are being developed across a range of products and services.
Mr Belfiore said Windows Hello offers improved online security because it "enables you to authenticate applications, enterprise content and even certain online experiences without a password being stored on your device or in a network server at all".
He said that if the device already has a fingerprint reader, it will be compatible with the new authentication system.
For facial or iris detection, "Windows Hello uses a combination of special hardware and software to accurately verify it is you - not a picture of you or someone trying to impersonate you", he wrote.
"The cameras use infrared technology to identify your face or iris, and can recognise you in a variety of lighting conditions."
Microsoft also announced that developers of other services would accept the same authentication under the programming system dubbed "Passport". This provides a more secure way of letting users sign in to websites or apps.
This opt-in system will verify the user of a device before authenticating that person for the wider range of services accepting Passport.