On Friday, Microsoft confirmed the rumors of a new edition of its latest operating system by unveiling Windows 8.1 with Bing. This move is to allow its hardware partners to sell lower-cost Windows devices. The new edition will be announced at CPX Conference in Taipei.
The new edition of Windows 8.1 with Bing appears to be the same as the standard version of windows 8.1 (complete with the recently released Windows 8.1 Update) with one major distinction: Bing is set as the default search engine in Internet Explorer. Microsoft will allow users to change that option in IE’s search engine settings. However OEMs do not have that luxury.
Microsoft already made Windows free for phones, devices under 8 inches at this year’s Build conference. The Microsoft’s post suggests the free version of Windows 8.1 is actually Windows 8.1 with Bing — the SKU really is all about OEMs — they can’t change the Bing setting, but get a discounted price (it’s not clear if it’s heavily reduced or free). Customers are still getting the same deal — Windows 8.1 that can be changed any way they like.
In its official Windows Experience blog, Microsoft comments on the potential inclusion of Office 365 in devices that run Windows with Bing:
This new edition will be only be available preloaded on devices from our hardware partners. Some of these devices, in particular tablets, will also come with Office or a one-year subscription to Office 365.
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.