Windows spyware OS could soon be free

Microsoft may offer Windows with Bing for free

Microsoft By Lee Mathews Feb. 28, 2014 10:59 am windows-with-bing

A minor update for Windows 8.1 might not be all that Microsoft has up its sleeve. They may be cooking up a free version of Windows, and it could be here sooner than you think.

The Leakmaster General over at has posted setup screenshots and details from a new Windows SKU called “Windows with Bing.” There don’t appear to be any major differences between it and the standard Windows offerings. It’s likely very similar to Microsoft’s existing attempts to bundle Bing, like the $3 discount on Office Home and Student when the toolbar is bundled or Internet Explorer with Bing.

win-8.1-boxWindows licensing can’t continue to be a major source of income for Microsoft. We’re living in the age of the free OS, thanks to Google’s attempts to dominate the mobile computing world. Microsoft already had to make some big concessions because of Android and Chrome OS, including recently reducing the license cost for sub-$250 systems to just $15 and giving OEMs that build small tablets Office for free.

It’s time, then, to figure out a way to reduce the cost of Windows to zero for device makers. Windows with Bing could well be Microsoft’s first attempt to do just that.

They’ve got plenty of other ways to make money in 2014. Business has picked up in the Windows Store, Office 365 subscriptions are selling like hotcakes, and SkyDrive and Xbox Music continue to grow. They’ve also got a steady stream of revenue pouring in from all those patent licensing deals they’ve struck with Android OEMs.

That’s another big reason to push Windows with Bing for free: doing so would actually make it cheaper for a company like Acer or LG to build low-cost Windows devices. Yes, cheaper than building a comparable device that runs Android or Chrome OS, both of which are free. Aren’t software patents wonderful?

It’s not likely that Microsoft is simply going to stop charging for Windows. Retail versions will still cost something at least until Apple stops charging for them. That won’t matter to the majority of Windows users, though, since they typically buy a system with Windows pre-loaded rather than installing it themselves.

For that majority of users, anything that makes their next system cheaper is a good thing — particularly if it doesn’t really involve any major changes. Heck, Bing and Microsoft’s other services are all defaults in Windows 8.1 anyway.

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