Microsoft could be considering the launch of a free version of Windows 8.1, according to reports.
Following its downward price trend of recent times, Microsoft could be set to launch an extremely low-cost or even completely free version of Windows 8.1.
That’s the claim that has been made, first by ZDNet and then by The Verge. Both reckon that Microsoft is in the process of trialling something called Windows 8.1 with Bing, the early versions of which appear to have leaked online with no great discernible changes.
This new version would come bundled with key Microsoft apps and services, and it's being suggested that it would stand as a way to encourage reluctant Windows 7 users to upgrade for free (or at least for a very low cost).
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Microsoft might even offer this version of Windows to PC manufacturers for a knock-down license fee, as part of measures to head off Google’s Chrome OS at the low-end of the PC market.
It’s not known just yet exactly how Microsoft plans to monetise this free OS with Bing, as the company’s search engine already powers a number of free services within the Windows 8 OS.
Both sources are at pains to stress that this is just an experiment on Microsoft’s part, and Windows 8.1 with Bing may never see light as a commercial product. Still, it’s interesting to learn that the company is looking to radically shake up Windows’s monetisation model, just as it did with its interface.