Microsoft has announced Windows 8.1 with Bing, a low-cost version of Windows

Image above is of vanilla Windows 8.1

Microsoft has finally confirmed the rumors surrounding a new version of Windows 8.1. This new SKU, called Windows 8.1 with Bing, is targeted towards OEMs and will allow them to build lower-cost Windows devices.

The new SKU will require Bing as the default search engine within Internet Explorer but the consumer will be able to change the default once they start using the device. According to the announcement post, OEMs are already working on devices using the OS and we should see some of this hardware being announced over the next few weeks.

For Microsoft, getting more devices running Windows 8.1 is a key focal point for the company; as more users buy into the OS, more apps hit the Windows Store and more transactions take place. Given that Microsoft takes a cut on sales from the Windows Store, a massive user base is needed to backfill the revenue and, with more users, developers become more eager to create apps. The problem is, which comes first - the apps or the users? In this case, Microsoft is doing everything it can to boost the user base for its products which will motivate developers with a larger audience pool for their premium applications.

Microsoft's specific reasoning for the lower-cost version of Windows 8.1 is this:

The end result is that more people—across consumer and commercial—will have access to an even broader selection of new devices with all the awesomeness that Windows 8.1 provides, and get Office too, all at a really affordable price. Additionally, as reach expands, the opportunity for developers and their apps also increases.

For those wondering, Windows 8.1 with Bing will look exactly like Windows 8.1, so to the end user, nothing should really change but the price for entry of the hardware. Additionally, this version of Windows will only be available for OEMs on devices under 9 inches in size.

Source: Microsoft

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And? This might come as a shock but some people actually need/want to run software other than what's available in a browser... free doesn't amount to much if it doesn't do what people need it to do.

Max Norris said,
And? This might come as a shock but some people actually need/want to run software other than what's available in a browser... free doesn't amount to much if it doesn't do what people need it to do.

ChromeOS is so pathetic that I doubt even Google employees use it

Do people actually buy apps from windows store on Windows RT Pro devices and PC's? :s

Sounds like a good move i was expecting popups over start menu and some sort of desktop search.

We have a few people in the office with Windows 8 laptops. They have never visited the Windows Store when I inquired just for my own personal data. In fact, one co-worker showed me his Windows Store update notification and it showed something like 42 updates available.

JHBrown said,
We have a few people in the office with Windows 8 laptops. They have never visited the Windows Store when I inquired just for my own personal data. In fact, one co-worker showed me his Windows Store update notification and it showed something like 42 updates available.

Seams to be a trend all my friends using Windows 8 and myself included dont even visit the store.

One of Microsoft's better moves of late, offering OEM's cheap software without requiring it to be loaded with crapware is a great move.

Is this an actual different product version, or is it just a license for Windows 8 Core that is cheaper as long as Bing is default?

It'll be slightly annoying if it was a different version to have to mess with. Hopefully we can still use one install image and install any version as long as the ei.cfg is set right.

Gaara sama said,
if this version become available in US all i have to do to get it very cheap install it and Root windows and remove it lol.

Root Windows and remove it? There is nothing to remove. That's the point. It's just Windows and IE the way they would be if you did a clean install.

rfirth said,

Root Windows and remove it? There is nothing to remove. That's the point. It's just Windows and IE the way they would be if you did a clean install.

Yes its have you ever see windows xp strip?

Dot Matrix said,
Nice! Long live Windows 8!
Windows 9 will trump Windows 8. I have faith in Microsoft. You'll eat your words.

More important question: if this does indeed allow OEMs to build a machine with a lower cost, will they pass 100% or any % of that savings on to the end user?

this isn't meant to set consumer prices. This is to change the bill of materials calculation so that

cost of chrome/android > cost of windows once you account for a patent agreement which puts a fee on your android gear. I suspect windows with bing is slightly cheaper than the patent fee from using android or chromeos.

It does not make sense? it comes with Bing as the default search but you can change it
All windows come with Bing as the default...

Fahim S. said,
I would imagine that having 'Bing' stamped on the physcial device itself would be a requirement of the license.
It makes sense and it would be a pretty strong advertising scheme.

Gibbyhome said,
It does not make sense? it comes with Bing as the default search but you can change it
All windows come with Bing as the default...
Not necessarily the version of Windows that comes with your device - they can be set to anything by the OEM. This version can't.

Although everyone is correct that Windows 8 already defaulted to Bing, I believe OEMs could change that default on their PCs. This would probably require that they keep it as Bing when they send it to the customer.

Really surprised by this. Nice move by MS. Wonder if this SKU OEM disc version will be available on Newegg for cheap like previous ones have been...

None - except it's cheaper for OEMs who decide to produce low-cost devices. Microsoft just called it that because they had to call this edition something.

OEMs aren't allowed to change anything in those versions of Windows at the defaults. No other search engine, no other browser, nothing that replaces default Windows features.

mrdeezus said,
I'm sure this is limited to the device its sold with whereas a retail copy could be transferred to different devices.
That's not the difference here - this is just another edition for OEMs alongside Windows 8.1 and 8.1 Pro.

neufuse said,
Isn't bing the default on MS OS's right now as it is?
yes but OEMs have the option of changing that among other things (though most don't as much as they used to thankfully)

timster said,
I think on Windows 7 and 8, it is. not sure about XP or Vista
XP and Vista have Live Search as their defaults (and it's previous search engines), through, of course, those now link to Bing.

Yes, but OEMs can change it to whatever they want. If Google or someone else pays the OEM to set their search engine as default they can do that. This Windows 8.1 with Bing license requires bing to be default.

It doesn't seem much different than Microsoft paying to keep Bing default.

mrp04 said,
Yes, but OEMs can change it to whatever they want. If Google or someone else pays the OEM to set their search engine as default they can do that. This Windows 8.1 with Bing license requires bing to be default.

It doesn't seem much different than Microsoft paying to keep Bing default.

the key off course is that the savings may be greater than what google is willing to pay. For instance if an OEM pays 100 bucks (I know they don't but let's say). Google pays 20 for google. OEM cost is then 80. But if MSFT gives it to you for 40 bucks, it means google would have to pay 60 bucks to match MSFT's offer.

this is a huge win for MSFT at least in this regard.
1) it makes windows cheaper thus more adoptable by low margins
2) it makes google's efforts more expensive
3) it helps bing marketshare.

Off course the idea being that the revenue drop will be offset by uptake on the OS. basically a way to buy marketshare and hit your competitor. Very expensive indeed. But then again MSFT is sitting in nearly 100 billion dollars in cash. And seems better spent on this than on dividends for the fat cats.

Yes, lower cost DEVICES because this installation of Windows for OEMs is free.

The devices aren't going to be free, nor is this an edition for comsumers to upgrade/install.

zikalify said,
low cost? I thought it was going to be free?

The cost to OEM's is really low. If I'm not mistaken somewhere in the $20-30 range...

What part of "is going to be free" you don't get?
They were very specific saying when their Internet of Things program gets stabilized, Windows will be completely free, until then is going free only for devices until 9 inches.

ccoltmanm said,
I would have expected at least a bing bar or desktop wallpaper changing or something more.

If this is it, good move.

We shall see... I mean Internet Explorer already has Bing as the default search engine. So I'm not sure why they would need to create a new SKU unless they did something beyond this. They could have just given the OEM a discount if they didn't install a separate browser...

Makes me think there are a lot more Bing tie ins that go beyond just the browser. Hopefully if this is the case they can be toggled as well and not just the in browser search engine.

Well for one, OEMs change the default search engine (and install crappy toolbars and such). So it seems like this is basically just giving them a discount for not changing that.