Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc revealed a new low-cost version of Windows 8.1 that will be preloaded on devices and systems from the company's hardware partners. The build is called "Windows 8.1 with Bing," and ultimately should mean more options for the consumer, and lower device prices.
"Windows 8.1 with Bing provides all the same great experiences that Windows 8.1 offers with the Windows 8.1 Update, and comes with Bing as the default search engine within Internet Explorer," LeBlanc writes. "And of course, customers will be able to change that setting through the Internet Explorer menu, providing them with control over search engine settings."
LeBlanc added that tablets loaded with Windows 8.1 with Bing will come with Office 2013, or a one-year subscription to Office 365. Consumers wanting the latest changes in Office should look into an Office 365 subscription, which provides five seats for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year without the need to purchase software.
With the Bing version of Windows 8.1, Microsoft is essentially following Google's lead. Although Google makes money off the ad space it sells, it's also making a nice chunk of change from the virtual merchandise it sells such as movies, TV shows, games and whatnot. Microsoft is taking the same route to some degree, providing a low-cost platform as a service that will lead to music sales, app sales and other digital content consumption to make up the financial difference.
In Friday's blog, LeBlanc points out that in 2013, Microsoft eased up on the hardware specs required for Windows 8.1, allowing hardware partners to ship devices with only 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. Microsoft also made the Windows platform free for phone makers and those shipping tablets smaller than 9 inches.
“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," LeBlanc writes.
LeBlanc said that devices with Windows 8.1 with Bing will be rolling out from hardware partners in the coming weeks. Question is, will the products sell better than those without the new Bing-laced OS?