Microsoft Reportedly Expands Free Windows License Program to Boost Hardware Sales

Paul Lilly

More affordable Windows tablets could be on the horizon

Here's a bit of potentially good news for Microsoft's hardware partners. Word on the web is that Microsoft may expand its free Windows license program to include tablets priced below $250 . Up until now, tablets less than 9 inches qualified for the subsidized pricing, though unconfirmed reports suggest the program will cast a wider net in order to get more Windows-based tablets out in the wild.

Microsoft's partners already pay a reduced rate for Windows 8.1, and ever since June, they've paid nothing for installing Windows 8.1 on smaller size tablets. Giving Windows away like that reduces their cost by $10 to $15, and with sometimes razor thin profit margins ruling the day, it's been enough of an incentive to attract additional vendors into the Windows space.

In addition, Digitimes reports that Intel has been aggressively promoting its CPUs for mobile devices in China. The hope is that by offering its processors at cheap prices, it will attract white-box players to join the fold.

As it stands, some 70 percent of whitebox vendors cooperating with Intel planned to release Android-based tablets in the second half of the year. However, between the expansion of the free Windows license program and cheaper Intel CPUs, that number is set to drop to 50 percent in the third quarter.

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