Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at the launch event of Windows 8 operating system in New York, October 25, 2012. (Credit: Reuters)
Reports surfaced over the weekend that Microsoft will cut by 70 per cent the price of Window 8.1 licenses for devices costing less than $250. According to Bloomberg, with the reduction, the price of a Windows 8.1 OS would drop to $15 from $50.
There would be no restrictions on type or size of hardware that the lower-priced OS could be installed.
The move is seen as an attempt by Microsoft to entice more users of the unpopular OS and encourage manufacturers to make low-end Windows tablets as producers shift toward below $250 Chromebooks running of Google's free Chrome OS.
Since Windows 8 was released in October 2012, it has sold only 200 million licenses, while Windows 7, still utilised by many computer users globally, sold 240 million licenses within the first 12 months it was in the market.
Besides the relative unpopularity of Windows 8 perceived as difficult to use, another stumbling block is the $50 price tag, which the price reduction hopes to address.
In response to the price cut report, XDNet writer Mary Jo Foley scanned the Microsoft Store and found only one device costing less than $250, the ASUS X102BA-BH31T Touchscreen laptop, actually already discounted from $399 to $249. Amazon.com lists the 8-inch Dell Venue 8 Pro 32 GB tablet as having a price tag of $249, down from the original $299.
The heavy discount is also seen as Microsoft clearing its inventory of Windows 8 licenses amid speculations that the tech giant will overhaul its Windows SKUs by spring of 2015 and released Windows 9, the next major version of Windows codenamed Threshold.
ZDNet, which cited its sources, said Microsoft would likely come up with three primary Windows Threshold SKUs - a low-end modem consumer SKU for Windows Phones, ARM-based Windows tablets/PCs, phablets and similar devices and a traditional enterprise SKU for business users.