Are cheaper Windows 8 portables on the way? WSJ reports Microsoft is slashing Windows 8 prices for PC makers

Windows 8 is Microsoft’s attempt to get in on the touchscreen computing craze that’s currently dominated by tablets running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. But there have been plenty of signs that sales of touch-capable Windows 8 devices have been off to a slow start.

One possible reason is the high price of Windows notebooks and tablets with touchscreen: they tend to sell for much more money than Android or iOS devices. According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft hopes to change things by offering PC makers deep discounts on Windows 8 and Microsoft Office licenses for some devices.

HP Envy X2

The WSJ reports Microsoft normally charges PC makers around $120 for Windows 8 and Office, but the company is reportedly offering some device makers the same bundle for just $30.

This deal only applies to Windows 8 laptops with touchscreen displays smaller than 10.8 inches (although I suspect Windows 8 notebook/tablet hybrids might also fall into this category.

Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the rumor — but that’s not surprising. The company doesn’t usually talk about how much money it charges PC makers for licenses to put its software on computers before shipping them out.

But the strategy is similar to the one Microsoft took a few years ago in the netbook space. When the first Asus Eee PC mini-laptops hit the street, part of their appeal was their low price tags. Up until that point a $400 laptop that weighed less than 3 pounds and had a 10 inch or smaller screen was virtually unheard of.

And part of what helped the prices stay low was the software: Asus shipped its first netbooks with Xandros Linux. Acer followed suit with Linpus Linux Lite. And Microsoft responded by offering cheap Windows XP (and eventually Windows 7 Starter) licenses.

The move worked, and almost every netbook to ship in 2009 and later came with Windows rather than Linux.

A similar price cut could encourage PC makers to offer tablets and notebooks that are priced more competitively with Android and iOS counterparts. But the operating system is only one component this time around. Windows 8 devices also tend to ship with different hardware than iPads or Android tablets, and there are currently hundreds of thousands of touch-friendly apps available for those platforms, while the Windows Store is relatively barren at the moment.

In other words, Microsoft may be starting from further behind in the touchscreen ultraportable space than it was in the netbook space a few years ago.

via Engadget

  • gman

    Not hard to see this coming. That dreaded netbook pricing model that everyone was working to snuff out? Yeah right. I realize these aren’t touchscreen netbooks because that’s a bad word, but rather they are touchscreen notebooks or ultraportables. The funny part is that they contain the same internals like say Atom? Ultimately gutless processors with a price point that was double? Get ready for even greater price drops on these. The reason is because Google isn’t going to be sitting around. There will be even cheaper Chromebooks at the same time M$ is trying this new pricing strategy. What M$ needs to be doing is offering those 10-inchers with non touch and Windows 8 OS. What’s that? A netbook? Yeah that might keep them relevant because who wants to ripped off buying a glitzy $250 netbook that has an extra $250 worth of thrills that you really don’t want?

    • brian

      agreed the 11.6″ acer c7 for 199 and 11.6″ samsung chromebook 5 are two really good offerings. With MS’s 10.8″ max screen size they aren’t going to be able to compete with those offerings which IMHO seem to set the current standard.

  • rsanchez1

    Price is the dealbreaker for me. I tried a Windows 8 tablet and I have to say, I love using it. The only thing that stopped me from buying it was that the tablet cost $500. I would prefer a 7″ Win8 tablet at $200-$250 or an 8-9″ Win8 tablet at $300-$350. Those prices would convert me to a Windows 8 tablet, but at this point I’m sticking with Android. The Kindle Fire HD and Nexus lines offer great value for the price.

    • Jim

      I’d love to get a 7″ “Windows 8 (not RT) tablet. Much more useful than Android or iOS. I can deal with desktop UI apps with an active stylus.

      • Tekkyman

        If only Viliv could have made it until Windows 8 and Clover Trail came out. Then again, I’m not sure there’d be more UMPC users today than back then. I’m still hoping though. Maybe Samsung will enter the market again.

    • buzz86us

      and to top it off you don’t really get the full windows experience so no 3d games etc…

      • rsanchez1

        Oh yeah, I understand that, but even without the “full” Windows 8 experience I find its much better as a tablet OS than anything Google or Apple could come up with. Most of the complaints about Win8 center around the awkward way MS tried to unify mobile and desktop in one OS, but when you try Win8 on a tablet where the gestures make sense and the desktop is no longer needed, you can fully appreciate how good Win8 is and where MS is going with Windows.

  • buzz86us

    I don’t get the point of a laptop with a touchscreen, either make the screen detachable of don’t bother. IMO the HKC Surface Pro clone seems to be a step in the night direction full x86 apps (not ARM) but the same form factor as the Surface for $350 (about the price of a low-end lappie)… if the i5 edition is sub-$400 by the time wally-world gets to it then i’ll ditch my laptop…