Although the Windows 8.1 pricing scheme is not the biggest mystery in the world, things got rather interesting when Microsoft announced at BUILD 2014 that it was making the OS free for OEMs.
Certain OEMs, mind you, those that create tablets with display sizes smaller than 9 inches.
This was clearly an attempt to bring more devices running the modern operating system to store shelves, and the strategy has, more or less, been successful. A whole bunch of remarkable Windows 8.1 powered slates have been released these past few months.
Through all this, Microsoft has not actually disclosed more details about its pricing model.
However, new information posted on the Microsoft OEM Partner Center page reveals that Windows 8.1 with Bing is not entirely free. Instead this variant of the operating system is available with a discount that makes it cost zero dollars for devices with screens below 9 inches.
Essentially, Windows 8.1 with Bing is available for $10 for tablets based on Intel chips, but thanks to what Redmond calls a “configuration discount”, the operating system becomes available free of charge.
Equally interesting is the fact that tablets with a screen size of 10.1 inches or higher can license the operating system for $25. But thanks to the abovementioned discount, each copy only costs hardware vendors $15.
Pretty neat, overall.
Microsoft also offers another variant of the operating system besides Windows 8.1 with Bing. This one goes by the threatening name of Windows 8.1 with Bing and Office 365 Personal for Tablets, costs $25, but offers a complimentary one-year subscription of Office 365 Personal.
It is not out of the ordinary to expect a similar pricing scheme for Windows 10 once it launches later this year, though the company may yet pull off some surprises.
You just never know.