Once upon a time Windows-powered devices dominated the portable computer market. But these days many people use Android or iOS-powered phones or tablets to do many of the things that used to require a PC.

So Microsoft’s been trying to keep its Windows software competitive, first by enhancing the touch capabilities of the operating system, then by lowering the system requirements so that Windows can run on low-cost devices and removing the licensing fee for device makers that want to install Windows on phones or tablets with screens smaller than 9 inches.

Now Microsoft is announcing a new version of Windows for low-cost devices: Windows 8.1 with Bing.

ie bing

The new operating system is virtually identical to Windows 8.1 for other devices. The only real difference is that system builders aren’t allowed to change the default search engine in Internet Explorer… which means that any device you buy with this version of Windows will most likely have Bing set as the default.

There’s nothing stopping you from changing the search engine or installing an alternate web browser once you start using the device. But it sounds like Microsoft is hoping to make up for some of the potential revenue it could lose in licensing fees by increasing the number of people using its Bing search engine and web services.

In a blog post announcing the new version of Windows, Microsoft says Windows 8.1 with Bing will only be available on devices that come with the operating system pre-loaded. You can’t buy the OS yourself. Some tablets that come with Windows 8.1 with Bing will also come with a free 1-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365.

WinSuperSite’s Paul Thurrott reports Windows 8.1 with Bing will be available to device makers selling PCs for under $250.

via Ars Technica

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9 replies on “Microsoft unveils “Windows 8.1 with Bing” for low-cost devices”

  1. None of the articles I have seen on this seem to get it, it is to allow OEM to use cheaper tablets, putting Bing on does not do that.
    So what does?
    Allowing it to run on 1GB ram, with 16GB and a small 7″ or 8″ screen.
    Look at the Dell Venue, the Android version with the above specs can be had for as low as $150 with 7″ and 16GB. Now Move up to Windows 8.1, the device goes up by about 100 to $250 seems like the average price, and it has 32GB of storage which most say is not enough. ( its plenty if you get it backed up, and delete the install disk copy)
    So now Joe/Jane Consumer open there Sunday Ads, and the front page says Dell Tablet $179 its the android version, 4 pages in the same ad has the Dell Venue Pro 8, listed for $250 it has Windows 8.1.
    This is just Dell, ASUS, Acer, and others all have this, a lower spec tablet with Android, taking sales from their Windows Tablet.
    Joe/Jane consumer like eating so they shop based on price, and buy the Android, the idea is this change will now put the Windows machine in their price range.

    1. I totally agree with you. I had been waiting for the DV8 to drop in price a little more and was able to score one for $220 at Amazon. (Thank you wife…early Father’s Day gift!) 32 gig is fine for me. I added a 32 gig Micro SD, did a disk clean up and was set to go. Most of us don’t want to pay top dollar especially for our secondary devices.

    2. Being able to offer a low cost Windows device with only 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage wasn’t an option before the Windows 8.1 Update 1 finally reduced the minimal requirements…

      So it’s a good time for MS to offer a cheaper version of Windows and let the system makers finally be able to make those value models…

      Also, another new feature is WIMBoot, which allows keeping most of the install in a compressed WIM file and does away with the need for a recovery partition… So entire install can be smaller than 3GB… And of course that makes the 16GB storage even more viable of a option now…

  2. Looks like a reactive strike against iOS, Android, Chrome, Linux boxes, USB
    sticks, and anything else that isn’t a tablet. MS is scrambling to remain
    relevant. Fortunately for MS, Intel is helping its old partner along by
    putting the pedal to the metal in low end x86 CPU introductions. Guess
    MS and Intel are both feeling the heat from competitors, and burning their
    billions in cash to preserve market share. This will wreck the average
    selling price of all manner of computers. Toaster PCs, anyone?

  3. Life is really good for those of us who love our inexpensive tech. Broadwell, cherry trail, chromebooks, low cost Windows, tablets, cheap smartphones … loving it.

  4. For sub-10″ screened devices, is MS still offering Windows 8 plus MS Office for ~$30 per device to OEMs?

    1. Technically, the MS Office Home & Student 2013 is free for Windows tablets 10.8″ or smaller… But yes, the cost to OEM’s is still low for the standard Windows 8.1 license…

      This Bing deal is just a newer separate deal for even lower priced Windows devices… it, however, doesn’t qualify for the free copy of Office… So instead they offer the 1 year of Office 365 subscription instead… basically, MS is hoping to make up the revenue in the long term…

    2. Yes, the $30 deal for Windows and MS Office is still active for OEMs for touch screens smaller than 10.8 inches.

      1. Also, this deal is really for devices with screens larger than 10.8″.

        In addtion, MS recently said Windows will be free to OEMs on devices with 9″ or smaller screens. However, I’m not sure if it’s for Windows 8, RT or both.

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