MICROSOFT HAS CONFIRMED rumours of a cut-down version of its much disliked Windows 8.1 operating system.
Windows 8.1 with Bing will be available to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) at a reduced price compared to the full version of Windows. Devices running Windows 8.1 often can't compete on price with those running popular open source operating systems such as Linux, Android and Chrome OS, because the cost of a full Windows licence has to be factored into the retail price.
Windows 8.1 with Bing will come with Internet Explorer installed and Bing search enabled by default, but the company has made it clear that users will have the option to change that, though the OEMs can't change the presale default.
Some devices will have either Microsoft Office or a one year subscription to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud service included.
In 2007 the European Union found Microsoft guilty of anti-competitive practices by preinstalling its own programs, and the company won't want to repeat that, so any thoughts of locking down devices to Bing are out, however much it would like to.
In a blog post last Friday, the company hinted that we might get to see the first devices taking advantage of the new version of Windows at Computex in Taipei, which will take place in a few weeks.
Microsoft said, "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."
While a lower cost version of Windows had been rumoured for a long time, the only evidence of such a strategy appeared for devices with a screen size of under nine inches, which OEMs can now licence free of charge.
Windows 8.1 with Bing will also serve to familiarise people with the Bing search engine, and with so much of a gulf in market share between Bing and Google that can only be a good thing for Microsoft. µ