Detailed by Bloomberg this week, Microsoft has struck a new deal with desktop, laptop and tablet manufacturers that sell products retailing for less than $250. While these companies previously had to pay $50 for a license to use Windows 8.1 on a device, the new cost has been reduced to just $15. The type of device using the operating system won’t make any difference, only that the device is sold under the $250 price point. On the consumer end, prices are unlikely to change significantly, but this move should lead to a greater number of lower-end devices that offers the Windows 8 interface rather than Chrome OS.
In addition to the pricing change, Microsoft has also removed some of the device restrictions. For instance, manufacturers won’t be required to include touchscreens on devices that utilize Windows 8 and won’t need to complete logo certification in order to launch the device. Logo certification is a process that examines the hardware to determine compatibility with the operating system.
The abandonment of requiring touchscreens is just another sign that Microsoft will shift away from booting directly into the Metro user interface in the planned update to Windows 8.1. Targeting an April 2014 release window, the update to Windows 8.1 is expected to allow non-touch Windows 8 devices to boot directly to the desktop, definitely ideal when using a mouse. However, there are a number of third party applications that allow users to booth directly to the desktop. For instance, Stardock’s Start8 can accomplish this feat in addition to bringing back the start menu design from Windows 7.
Since Windows 8 launched, the adoption rate of the operating system has been significantly slower than Windows 7, hence the move to discount the OS for manufacturers. However, one downside to the cheaper rate is the lack of Microsoft support on the marketing side as well as the loss of other incentives that were packaged in at the higher rate.