Microsoft Formally Acknowledges Windows 8.1 with Bing

Pulkit Chandna

Many devices preloaded with the free SKU to be unveiled over the coming weeks

Microsoft is now getting very serious about taking the fight to all those low-cost Android tablets and cheap Chromebooks.  Hot on the heels of its decision to begin offering OEMs free Windows licenses for building sub-9-inch devices , the Redmond-based tech bellwether on Friday announced a new version of Windows that will be offered free of cost to device manufacturers regardless of screen size.

First heard of in February , Windows 8.1 with Bing is a new, free edition of the company’s touch-friendly tablet and desktop OS mainly aimed at “lower cost” devices. The SKU will, per Microsoft, only come “preloaded on Windows devices from our hardware partners.”

“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.” Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a post on the Windows Experience blog Friday. “And of course customers will be able to change that setting through the Internet Explorer menu, providing them with control over search engine settings. 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.”

Microsoft is clearly excited at the prospect of Windows-based devices being able to compete in price-sensitive segments where they have hitherto failed even to find a toehold, having been seriously bogged down by Windows licensing costs. The onus is now on the company’s various hardware partners to justify this excitement by showing some some stellar devices over the coming weeks.

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