Microsoft finally announces Windows 8.1 with Bing, the long-time rumored version of the operating system is a new SKU and it’s targets toward PC makers to install on low-cost devices. To be absolutely clear, this isn’t a new version of Windows, the user experience will remain unchanged to what users are getting used to with Windows 8.1. The new software release doesn’t come with limitations or any sort of restrictions, it only features a cheaper licensing fee, which Microsoft isn’t telling, and it won’t be free as many were hoping.
The only catch is for OEMs who will have to install Windows 8.1 with Bing on low-cost devices and set Bing as the default search in Internet Explorer. But it’s unclear if PC makers can also install a different web browser, such as Chrome and set Google as default search engine for this particular web browser. In any case, users will able to change the default search engine as they please once they buy the device.
Bing isn’t the only service, Microsoft will also preinstall Office on some devices too as part of the new Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU. And in some cases, devices will include one year subscription to Office 365.
Microsoft will only make this new version of the software available to PC makers, meaning that customers won’t be able to buy a copy of Windows 8.1 with Bing. It will only come preinstalled in certain devices under 9 inches — mostly tablets — and specific hardware partners.
The software giant is taking this new approach to get more people using Windows 8.1 and new devices at an affordable price. Additionally the more people use Windows 8.1, more apps will be downloaded, which can help the Windows Store to grow as programmers will see more cash and possibilities.
To clear any confusion, Windows 8.1 with Bing will be a free version of Windows that PC makers will be able to install on devices under 9-inch with a value lower than $250. Then for devices more expensive, PC makers will have to pay a low-cost licensing fee to install Windows 8.1 with Bing on those devices. — At least this is the way that I come to understand this situation.