Key individuals of the Windows 8 program close to Bloomberg News are telling us Microsoft is feeling the heat from Chromebooks, slashing costs of the Windows 8.1 license by a large 70 percent. The new is speculation at this point, but not completely out to the realm of possibilities. This cut would apply to the average $50 license fee for Windows 8.1, not the actual cost of the retail software package.
Despite 200 million unit sales of Windows 8 since October of 2012 (we don’t know if these were licenses for devices shipped with Windows 8 pre-installed or individuals actually bought the license – there is a huge difference as Windows 8 is default OS on desktops so each PC sold is also counted as Windows sales), the rate of adoption and sales far lower than its predecessor, Windows 7. Many attribute this to marketplace slowdown from touch enabled computing devices, such as rival iPads and Android devices.
Sources familiar with the Windows 8 program attribute the cuts also to revisions in OEM agreements that must be followed for distribution of hardware coupled with the aforementioned OS. Those same OEMS also received updated documentation for a future planned update to Windows 8.1 itself, a change that Microsoft has been testing for its planned Windows 8.1 Update 1 release due out in April.
Despite the “happy” news of the cuts, one still has to speculate how largely this is out of fear of rival devices and intense negative feedback from the traditional mouse and keyboard crowd. I found it difficult myself to not feel uncomfortable back in February when I tested out a touchscreen monitor paired with Windows 8.1. I found it bearable only to use the mouse, as using the touchscreen just seemed awkward and tiring reaching forward frequently. Also, there is the questions of retaining that mouse precision for applications that truly need it, which begs the question of “is convergence really the answer?”
In any case, the reported cuts should help Microsoft somewhat, but to what degree and scale, is still unknown. The absence of readily purchasable Windows 7 licenses is one thing that still is causing grief to those wishing move from XP, but dislike Windows 8.
With this move clearly aimed at low-cost Linux based laptops, such as the wildly popular Chromebook. It’s hip, its low cost, and it works for its purposes. It is hard to tell if even the Windows 7 “Starter Edition” can undo the damage already caused.