Microsoft Launches the Low-Cost Windows 8.1 with Bing

The company says that this new version will help manufacturers build cheaper devices

Microsoft continues efforts to bring more affordable devices running its modern operating system to the market, so the company today announced a new version of Windows 8.1 that's pre-loaded with Bing content.

The intuitively-called Windows 8.1 with Bing is a new SKU of its platform that's specifically aimed at manufacturers trying to develop low-cost devices that would boost the adoption of Microsoft's modern operating system and obviously bring home the bacon.

Microsoft explains that this new edition of Windows 8.1 has Bing configured as the default search engine in Internet Explorer, but in order to comply with competition regulations, users are still allowed to choose the search engine they wish to use, so Google will still be available if you like it more.

"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. And of course customers will be able to change that setting through the Internet Explorer menu, providing them with control over search engine settings," Microsoft said.

Windows 8.1 with Bing won't be offered directly to customers and, although it is considered to be a low-cost version of Windows 8.1 that's specifically designed to bring cheaper tablets and PCs to the market, it will be preloaded on select devices from partners. A one-year subscription to Office 365 will also be offered to tablets running it, the company confirmed. Windows RT tablets currently on sale are also shipping with a free Office 2013 copy.

"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," Redmond also pointed out.

Microsoft believes that Windows 8.1 with Bing can serve a dual purpose. First of all, it can help move users off older versions of Windows, such as XP, and thus boost the adoption of the modern operating system that's been until now a little bit below expectations and still needs more time to excite.

Second of all, it also allows buyers to discover the benefits of Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based productivity suite that's available with a subscription and can be accessed from tablets and PCs alike.

"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," the company explained.

No details have been provided on the launch date, but Microsoft partners are most likely receiving the new SKU as we speak, so expect new devices running it to launch in the coming months.

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