Windows 8.1 with Bing: Designed for low-cost devices, locks OEMs into Bing service

A few weeks back, a new Windows SKU appeared on the web that was aptly called, “Windows 8.1 with Bing”. The name raised a lot of questions about how the platform was going to be marketed and if it would be a free version of Windows 8.

With the new leak of some Windows 8.1 update 1 bits, or more likely called the “Windows Feature Pack” we have a much better understanding of what the OS will include and how it will affect OEMs.

According to the leaked documentation, Windows 8.1 with Bing is a new Windows edition that is targeted at low-cost devices. The SKU will set Bing as the default search engine and OEMs will not be able to override this choice.

It seems quite clear, the low-cost SKU will require OEMs to pivot around Bing and the Microsoft suite of services in an attempt to boost Bing’s market share. This SKU likely plays into Microsoft’s move to offer Windows 8 at a lower price point to help move more licenses and proliferate Windows 8 across the ecosystem.

We have copied the text below from the documentation below:

Windows 8.1 with Bing

Windows 8.1 with Bing is a new Windows edition that helps OEMs add Windows to low-cost devices while driving end user usage of Microsoft Services such as Bing and OneDrive. Windows 8.1 with Bing is similar to other editions of Windows and should be imaged, updated, and deployed the same as any other Windows edition.

Windows 8.1 with Bing helps OEMs add Windows to low-cost devices while driving end user usage of Microsoft Services such as Bing and OneDrive.

This edition of Windows sets Bing as the default search engine within Internet Explorer. Users will be able to manually change default search settings and install additional browsers of their choice.

Windows 8.1 with Bing is based on the feature set available in Windows 8.1 Core and incudes all of the latest updates, including Windows 8.1 Update. Windows 8.1 with Bing is available for 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

What’s new for OEMs?

Windows 8.1 with Bing is similar to other editions of Windows and should be imaged, updated, and deployed the same as any other Windows edition. However, OEMs will not be able to change the default search engine with the SearchScopes unattend setting, Registry key, or 3rd party installation tools. When a user starts Internet Explorer, Bing is automatically set to the default Search Engine and will override any OEM-configured search provider. No other Internet Explorer defaults are changed.

Imaging & deployment testing

Customize and deploy Windows 8.1 with Bing just as you would any other Windows image. Add your unattend settings, apps, drives, and other items to your image. Deploy the image to a reference PC and validate that your apps and services function as expected.

 

Source: bav0.com

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Next version of DirectX to be called DirectX 12, more info coming in March

Next Story

Facebook wants to use drones to provide internet globally, may acquire Titan Aerospace

62 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

"Users will be able to manually change default search settings and install additional browsers of their choice."

So users will get a choice in IE, but we are all stuck with no choice for alt search providers via the Windows Search? We get Bing or no extended search.

That sucks.

The SKU will set Bing as the default search engine and OEMs will not be able to override this choice.

That's an antitrust case waiting to happen right there.

simplezz said,

That's an antitrust case waiting to happen right there.

They can override it, but they won't get Windows for free.

This is no different from Google paying OEMs to set Google as the default search engine. Here, they are paying OEMs to set Bing as the search engine. The payment is simply offsetting the cost of the license entirely.

good start, but it should be free. google has shown how to profit from free, MSFT can easily do the same. In particular if they just give away windows to anybody. meaning even consumers who want a download key.

This is a really interesting topic.

If you think about it, OEM licensing needs to be re-imagined.
Currently we all see it as a "Microsoft Tax" and PC numbers are dwindling significantly.
If I was Dell/HP/Lenovo, I'd be telling MS to seriously lower the entry point for Windows 8.1 without going down the path of a Basic/Starter edition.

I'm not privy to the details but if the current OEM pricing is $50, lowering it to say $10 doesn't make sense.. UNLESS you factor in the revised OEM agreement. The $10 windows must be "deployed" with Bing and Microsoft services as the "inherant bloatware".

Not only does this strengthen MS's deployment numbers, it also potentially breaks key deployment agreements with Google and other rival service providers (think cloud, etc..) - so on one hand the PC vendor gets cheaper product out, they also lose a little bit on the partner side.

It also gets me thinking about the corporate and business space, businesses traditionally use the OEM license - does this mean now that they must not reconfigure pre-deployment? If someone told me I save (potentially) $40 a PC x 1000 by simply allowing bing to be default search and not changing it until it's deployed - I'd tick the box.

I'm not exactly sure what antitrust issues there are in bundling anymore -- that's my only worry about defaulting to Bing.

I don't really see Windows license fees as a "Microsoft Tax". Windows (and OSX) are infinitely more productive and functional than "free" operating systems. There might be fewer PCs sold these days, but I don't think that means that their numbers are dwindling -- it just means that fewer people upgrade. It's just not like it was 15 years ago, where every year or two computers became totally obsolete. Quite to the contrary, a good computer from 5 years ago is still very usable today. It's just a more mature market.

I think this is already starting with cell phones and tablets. Most of my friends who used to buy a new tablet every half year or a year haven't upgraded in a couple of years, because the products are becoming more mature, and there are fewer real benefits to upgrade each year. My iPhone friends no longer buy *every* iPhone, and my Android friends are happy to skip a couple of generations.

You also run into issues of decreasing returns -- after some point, being lighter, being faster, or having a little more battery life makes much less of a difference these days than it did 5 or 10 years ago.

Talys said,
I'm not exactly sure what antitrust issues there are in bundling anymore -- that's my only worry about defaulting to Bing.

Using a dominant monopoly (desktop Windows) to gain an upper hand and disadvantage the competition in another market (Search) is the very definition of antitrust. Microsoft is going to have its hands full after releasing this thing.

simplezz said,

Using a dominant monopoly (desktop Windows) to gain an upper hand and disadvantage the competition in another market (Search) is the very definition of antitrust. Microsoft is going to have its hands full after releasing this thing.

Except that when seeing Windows 8 as a PC/tablet OS, Microsoft no longer completely dominates the OS market

simplezz said,

Using a dominant monopoly (desktop Windows) to gain an upper hand and disadvantage the competition in another market (Search) is the very definition of antitrust. Microsoft is going to have its hands full after releasing this thing.

As simplezz said, I think the Microsoft argument would be that the bundling is specific to a market in which Microsoft has a very low market share -- in sub $250 tablet devices, Microsoft is anything but a monopoly.

I'm still curious as to how it all plays out.

It's Pro consumer, OEM have to keep selling because the demand from customer is there. I expect a lot of cheaper 8 incher that can compete with Kindle. I will get everyone on my family each 8 inch $99 RT. Why? Because I can get Office, E-book, Acrobat, USB, VPN, Ultra violet, xbox video, VLC, smartglass, one note, and printing capability.

edit,
I am adding IE11

cd4am said,

If someone told me I save (potentially) $40 a PC x 1000 by simply allowing bing to be default search and not changing it until it's deployed - I'd tick the box.

what about a version of windows 8.1 without all metro, windows store, apps that dont run on administrator account. just the desktop, the basic things to replace xp maybe without all those bloat new windows can run on machines under 1gb of ram which its the XP market that they are trying to erase.

low price but with crapware and bloatware no thanks, considering the fact that OEM bundle more crap, and they dont pass the saving to their customers i dont see any reason for this.

eilegz said,
what about a version of windows 8.1 without all metro, windows store, apps that dont run on administrator account. just the desktop, the basic things to replace xp maybe without all those bloat new windows can run on machines under 1gb of ram which its the XP market that they are trying to erase.

As much as I agree with what you say, the reality is Microsoft is going to continue to ram Metro down everybody's throats in an attempt to make it stick. If you want a Metro-free experience without the bloat you're going to have to either install GNU/Linux or OS X.

simplezz said,

As much as I agree with what you say, the reality is Microsoft is going to continue to ram Metro down everybody's throats in an attempt to make it stick. If you want a Metro-free experience without the bloat you're going to have to either install GNU/Linux or OS X.

Or just Windows 8 and install classicshell or any of the 3000 other 3rd party apps.

simplezz said,

You obviously haven't used Bing

I have and I think both Bing and Google have their strength. I was talking more about the underlying OS' strength.

Why did they make this? Why not simply offer the lower price for OEMs who will be setting Bing as default and the higher price for those setting something else?

My guess is this way will probably cause the legal department less headaches given past challenges\issues with regard to OEM agreements. It's simpler for all involved if they just make a sale of different SKU vs. paying for the OEM directly to perform an action.

Besides, it's still Windows 8.1 (not RT); even more surprisingly, the only leak is the x64 version (which means that you can still install non-Store applications, like any other non-RT version of 8.1). There's a lot less to be alarmed about than you think.

Another missed opportunity by Redmond due to lack of vision. They should've made this a free or nearly free download for those whose PC's have enough power to run it. Would get more people off XP, open up potential customers to Microsoft's app store and drive up Bing usage. A triple win for Microsoft that will never be.

AR556 said,
Another missed opportunity by Redmond due to lack of vision. They should've made this a free or nearly free download for those whose PC's have enough power to run it. Would get more people off XP, open up potential customers to Microsoft's app store and drive up Bing usage. A triple win for Microsoft that will never be.
As if any business person hasn't said to themselves "if I just give away my product/service I'll take over the market" but then they realize they have bills to pay. You're making some serious assumptions about revenue from the App Store (only guaranteed revenue is the app store login... users can roll their own payment solution bypassing ms) or Bing usage translating into dollars (people can change the search engine and you still have to get people to advertise with bing to capitalize on that assumed increased search market share).

MrHumpty said,
As if any business person hasn't said to themselves "if I just give away my product/service I'll take over the market" but then they realize they have bills to pay. You're making some serious assumptions about revenue from the App Store (only guaranteed revenue is the app store login... users can roll their own payment solution bypassing ms) or Bing usage translating into dollars (people can change the search engine and you still have to get people to advertise with bing to capitalize on that assumed increased search market share).

Apple seemed to have enough cash to do it. Microsoft isn't cash-poor last time I checked. Both are publicly traded companies with shareholders to answer to. Granted, Apple doesn't have the OS footprint that Microsoft has, but the fact remains that the OS is becoming nothing more than a portal to pay services online. As an example, they're venturing into Android and iOS. Microsoft's products are moving away from Windows exclusivity. Call me crazy, but I don't foresee Windows sales remaining a major part of Microsoft's cash acquisition plan in the future. Enterprise Sales are a completely different story. I'm talking strictly consumer level. No way would I expect them to even entertain the idea of making Windows free to businesses.

Edited by AR556, Mar 6 2014, 1:39am :

AR556 said,
Apple seemed to have enough cash to do it. Microsoft isn't cash-poor last time I checked. Both are publicly traded companies with shareholders to answer to. Granted, Apple doesn't have the OS footprint that Microsoft has, but the fact remains that the OS is becoming nothing more than a portal to pay services online. As an example, they're venturing into Android and iOS. Microsoft's products are moving away from Windows exclusivity. Call me crazy, but I don't foresee Windows sales remaining a major part of Microsoft's cash acquisition plan in the future. Enterprise Sales are a completely different story. I'm talking strictly consumer level. No way would I expect them to even entertain the idea of making Windows free to businesses.
... seriously? Apple? 1) They sell hardware that the OS comes on. 2) See 1 and remember the huge margin they build into that hardware). TBH I stopped reading after that.

MrHumpty said,
... seriously? Apple? 1) They sell hardware that the OS comes on. 2) See 1 and remember the huge margin they build into that hardware). TBH I stopped reading after that.

Thats ok. I outlined my reasoning further into my post, but we'll agree to disagree. I even liked your post as a show of good faith. I don't mean it, but what WTH, right?

Please stop comparing Microsoft's and Apple's sources of income. They are not in the slightest compatible. Two completely different revenue models.

Dot Matrix said,
Please stop comparing Microsoft's and Apple's sources of income. They are not in the slightest compatible. Two completely different revenue models.

Yes, I'm well aware of the differences in how the two companies make money. All I'm trying to say is I believe Windows's days of being a major source of cash for the consumer segment of their business is numbered.

Microsoft wants to be a devices and services company, perhaps giving away a version of their OS tied to its services would expose more users to them, and provide more revenue in the end.

AR556 said,

Apple seemed to have enough cash to do it. Microsoft isn't cash-poor last time I checked. Both are publicly traded companies with shareholders to answer to. Granted, Apple doesn't have the OS footprint that Microsoft has, but the fact remains that the OS is becoming nothing more than a portal to pay services online. As an example, they're venturing into Android and iOS. Microsoft's products are moving away from Windows exclusivity. Call me crazy, but I don't foresee Windows sales remaining a major part of Microsoft's cash acquisition plan in the future. Enterprise Sales are a completely different story. I'm talking strictly consumer level. No way would I expect them to even entertain the idea of making Windows free to businesses.

Apple doesn't give ANYTHING away. The cost of their OS is figured into the price of the device and when they want to sunset a model they just put out a new version of the OS that doesn't support it.

Eric said,
Apple doesn't give ANYTHING away. The cost of their OS is figured into the price of the device and when they want to sunset a model they just put out a new version of the OS that doesn't support it.

OS X used to cost $129. iLife used to cost $49. iWork used to cost $79 (off the top of my head). Mac hardware pricing hasn't increased since those products and updates became free.

Edited by .Neo, Mar 6 2014, 9:26am :

AR556 said,

Yes, I'm well aware of the differences in how the two companies make money. All I'm trying to say is I believe Windows's days of being a major source of cash for the consumer segment of their business is numbered.

quite so, good thing windows isn't even their #2 business in terms of revenue or profit, and the consumer part of windows, is unlikely to even match the enterprise.

AR556 said,
Thats ok. I outlined my reasoning further into my post, but we'll agree to disagree. I even liked your post as a show of good faith. I don't mean it, but what WTH, right?
Windows won't ever be "free" as people think of Apple's OS's. Obviously their own devices one could consider it "free." I like to see the cost as "included" even with Apple. As far as Windows Cash income. It will be rolled into a subscription model much like Office 365. Either you pay for a hardware locked license for a computer or you order the device with an active subscription and the OEM puts a subscription paid OS on the hardware.

Also, as I think others have mentioned, Windows isn't a major source of cash for them.

.Neo said,

OS X used to cost $129. iLife used to cost $49. iWork used to cost $79 (off the top of my head). Mac hardware pricing hasn't increased since those products and updates became free.

That's because they're making more Macs, and therefore, able to build them for lower costs. The software stays the same, but increases it's percentage of the total cost for a unit.

MrHumpty said,

Also, as I think others have mentioned, Windows isn"t a major source of cash for them.

Well, there ya go! Whats the risk then?

AR556 said,

Well, there ya go! Whats the risk then?

id imagine at a company as big as MS they've thought you scenario through and have found out the correct move is to not give away the os without some sort of measurable increase in revenue from somewhere else... thus Windows with Bing.

MrHumpty said,
id imagine at a company as big as MS they've thought you scenario through and have found out the correct move is to not give away the os without some sort of measurable increase in revenue from somewhere else... thus Windows with Bing.

Perhaps Windows with Bing is an experiment that may develop into a free release of Windows one day. Microsoft sometimes shows up late to the game, so hopefully they don't this time.

AR556 said,
Perhaps Windows with Bing is an experiment that may develop into a free release of Windows one day. Microsoft sometimes shows up late to the game, so hopefully they don't this time.
As long as were referring to the seriously over charge for hardware as a way to cover the dev expense of the OS game. Then sure... thats the surface line i guess.

Not a clever move, IF the user can not over-ride it. As Max Norris said, I couldn't care less if the OEMs can't touch it, because they stuff up everything anyway.

But locking a user in is just asking for trouble.

ZipZapRap said,
Not a clever move, IF the user can not over-ride it. As Max Norris said, I couldn't care less if the OEMs can't touch it, because they stuff up everything anyway.

But locking a user in is just asking for trouble.

Android locks users to Play store only and google search.

ZipZapRap said,
Not a clever move, IF the user can not over-ride it. As Max Norris said, I couldn't care less if the OEMs can't touch it, because they stuff up everything anyway.

But locking a user in is just asking for trouble.

I'd love to see the Fed's tell MS they can't do that after seeing two other operating systems do the same thing. And there is no way you can say MS has a Monopoly on "operating systems"

ACTIONpack said,

Android locks users to Play store only and google search.

I use Amazon App Store on my android phone and I removed Google search widget.

No that's not true. You could use the Amazon App store, or download apps from any website and install them manually. You can you w/e search you want if there is a widget for it.

ACTIONpack said,

Android locks users to Play store only and google search.

Not true in the slightest... Android users can use alternative stores and (depending on device) install a custom ROM without Google Play altogether...

I also don't use Google search on my Nexus 5. I have DuckDuckGo as my default search engine and everything I do hits there search wise. Even the "Google Now" swipe up of the Home Button will open DuckDuckGo and not Google Now. I am on the stock ROM as well...

ACTIONpack said,

Android locks users to Play store only and google search.

No it doesn't. AOSP doesn't come with the play store at all. Learn your facts.

MrHumpty said,
I'd love to see the Fed's tell MS they can't do that after seeing two other operating systems do the same thing. And there is no way you can say MS has a Monopoly on "operating systems"

You are right, 90% of the market is not a monopoly by any means.


/s

LogicalApex said,

Not true in the slightest... Android users can use alternative stores and (depending on device) install a custom ROM without Google Play altogether...

I also don't use Google search on my Nexus 5. I have DuckDuckGo as my default search engine and everything I do hits there search wise. Even the "Google Now" swipe up of the Home Button will open DuckDuckGo and not Google Now. I am on the stock ROM as well...

Why would you want to do that? Then again, you get all the free Android malware you can eat.

That's what it seems, OEMs get a lower cost version of Win 8, locks them into using Bing as default search...end user is free to change.

Max Norris said,
As long as the end-user can override it, fine.. not a fan of most OEM "adjustments" anyway, keep it vanilla.

Please this is Microsoft. They did this to get Office and IE on every computer back in the 1990s with results that proved it worked.

Knowing how OEM's even install malware by default to save $ .02 and sell the users up the river they will all jump on it. Apple users laugh

I build my own systems as a result from garbage like this.

User moving to Windows 8 generally don't like Windows 8 as it is. Putting out systems that are locked to using Bing is only going to frustrate users even more, creating more hate for Windows 8.

I don't see how this is going to help Microsoft in the long run.

On a side note to using Bing, I was getting used to using Bing over google recently because they didn't add in random keywords, but the last week or so and Bing's search results have changed to something that's just crazy. It feels like non of the results are relevant to what I'm searching for.

I don't even use my Windows Phone for searching for anything with the built in bing search now, I've just pinned google to the start screen. Quite disappointing that Microsoft continues to try and mimic Google, even the bad things Google do.

sinetheo said,
Please this is Microsoft. They did this to get Office and IE on every computer back in the 1990s with results that proved it worked.

Knowing how OEM's even install malware by default to save $ .02 and sell the users up the river they will all jump on it. Apple users laugh

I build my own systems as a result from garbage like this.

Or just buy Signature PC's from the MS Store.

sagum said,
User moving to Windows 8 generally don't like Windows 8 as it is. Putting out systems that are locked to using Bing is only going to frustrate users even more, creating more hate for Windows 8.

The article clearly states you can change the default search or even the browser itself, it just can't be messed with by OEMs, that is, enforcing quality control.. we've all seen some pretty shady OEM setups in the past. Like Sinetheo above I avoid pre-builts like the plague, but laptops and such, first thing I do when it's out of the box is the drive gets nuked and reinstalled clean. You can keep your antivirus trials and other crapware and "performance boosters" thanks. Enforcing a clean slate is a nice change.

Besides, it's the "Connected Core" Edition (basically, a variant of Core) - how many BYOPC folks would chose this over Pro or even standard Core? It's aimed at whiteboxes that previously ran Windows 7 Home Basic (developed countries) or Starter Edition (everywhere else).

sinetheo said,

Please this is Microsoft. They did this to get Office and IE on every computer back in the 1990s with results that proved it worked.

Knowing how OEM's even install malware by default to save $ .02 and sell the users up the river they will all jump on it. Apple users laugh

I build my own systems as a result from garbage like this.

Are you drunk? I think you are confusing Microsoft with Wordperfect, McAfee and other products that shipped with exclusivity deals with OEMs.

At one of our smaller OEMs, we would offer Wordperfect bundles for free (We would eat the $30 cost of the Wordperfect Office bundle) or MS Word Home w/Works for an additional fee, and out of about 20,000 systems in 1997 that division sold maybe 50 of them with WordPerfect.
(Most OEMs had exclusivity deals and were forced to install Wordperfect bundles on every system sold, and again they were great customers to our retails stores, as the users came in looking for MS Word or MS Office.)


If you are a real story, I would love to hear how Microsoft gave away or force you to install something, because outside of a few exclusivity deals with HP/Dell/etc, this was not the case with Microsoft.

sinetheo said,

Apple users laugh

While the Apple users are basically also the target for "crappy devices", they are not exactly the target for "low cost devices" (which is the reason for getting preinstalled crapware, innit?)

MrHumpty said,
Or just buy Signature PC's from the MS Store.

Building your own PC is quick and allows you to choose the quality of components used. Why wouldn't anyone want a 2 to 5 year warranty on the individual components, along with no bloatware?

sagum said,
User moving to Windows 8 generally don't like Windows 8 as it is. Putting out systems that are locked to using Bing is only going to frustrate users even more, creating more hate for Windows 8.

I don't see how this is going to help Microsoft in the long run.


Of course it will help them, instead of 200 million machines sitting on a shelf collecting dust they will have 300 million.

/s