Digging into the Win10 licensing info Microsoft yanked from its Partner Network Blog

Yesterday, Microsoft pulled the only official, clear description we’ve seen of Windows 10 upgrade licensing

On Tuesday, May 19, both Richard Hay at the Windows IT Pro Supersite and Brad Sams at Neowin reported on a truly remarkable discovery. They found a blog entry on the Microsoft Australia Partner Network site, penned by Alexandra Snelson -- a Windows product marketing manager at Microsoft Australia (Contingent Staff) -- that provided a clear description of the Win10 upgrade paths available to current Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 licensees. Those reports from Hay and Sams rapidly spread across the web.

On Thursday, May 21, somebody changed the blog entry. Substantially.

You can read the original version of Snelson’s post on the Windows TenForums blog. The modified version is all that’s left on the MSDN Australia Partner Network site.

Specifically, this entire section from Snelson's post got dropped:

Windows 10 Free Upgrade Offer

There's been a lot of talk about Windows 10 being a free upgrade. For many customers, that will be true for the first year. So let's confirm the details:

Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices in the first year. After the first year, upgrades will be paid via boxed product and VL Upgrades.

Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 7 Home Basic and Home Premium devices upgrade to Windows 10 Home

Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate devices upgrade to Windows 10 Pro

If upgraded within the first 12 months following launch, the device will receive ongoing Windows 10 updates for free for the life of that device

Excludes Windows Enterprise and RT devices

The free Windows 10 upgrade is delivered through Windows Update; domain-joined machines can manually get the update via Windows Update. The upgrade cannot be deployed through WSUS.

And it was replaced by this:

As we announced earlier this year, for the first time ever, we are offering the full versions of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile, and Windows 10 Pro as a free and easy upgrade for qualifying Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year after launch. Further details on the free upgrade can be found at http://windows.com.

Going over the changes with a fine-toothed comb, it strikes me that Snelson’s post only repeated what we had heard many times before -- or, perhaps, assumed that we had heard many times before.

Ed Bott has a great roundup of the “free upgrade” licensing questions (of which there are many) in his ZDNet blog. His analysis meshes with Snelson’s recap in all details that I can discern.

Microsoft has already said:

We will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year! And even better: Once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time -- for no additional charge.

Aside from some minor details (Snelson mentions Windows 8 explicitly, where the Microsoft offer does not, for example) the descriptions seem similar. So why did Microsoft pull Snelson’s post?

I can see a few possible sticking points. For one, Microsoft doesn’t mention anywhere Snelson’s Windows Phone statement, “After the first year, upgrades will be paid via boxed product and VL Upgrades.” Snelson gives explicit upgrade paths, where Microsoft does not. Perhaps there’s a problem with her statement, “The upgrade cannot be deployed through WSUS.” Or maybe the Powers That Be don’t want an Ozzie orange badge to steal their thunder.

The Windows team has done an exceptional job bringing in the customer community’s comments and suggestions to build a better Windows. But they’ve done a downright execrable job explaining how it’s all going to roll out, fit together, and stay supported. Wag-Ed, where are you now that we need you?

At times I wonder if they’re making this up as they go along.

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