To be fair, this isn’t exactly direct free giveaway, but it’s pretty much the next best thing. Microsoft is finally starting to feel the heat about their market share coming from mobile devices and the upcoming Steam OS, and I’m suspecting they are trying to get ahead of the game. Legitimizing pirates makes sense, if it will retain their OS market share.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much good it will do them. Sure the pirates will be legal in Windows 10, but they’re still not going to be buying the OS. I suspect this is more an attempt show developers that the important development platform for games and apps is going to be Windows 10, rather than someone else like Steam OS. Of course, profits from those apps/games do not go to Microsoft, but if by the time Windows 11 comes around, PC users are again solidly within their technologies, Microsoft does not have to offer the same thing once more.
So this is more like a honeypot offer to avoid attrition before requesting money again. It’s classic Microsoft. It will be interesting to see how many will take them up on their offer and where it will lead.