Will Windows 8 PCs cost too much at launch?

Summary:Laptop makers are reportedly concerned about the higher costs of supporting Windows 8's touch-screen capabilities. The result could be that demand for Windows 8 PCs may not pick up steam until 2013.

Microsoft has a lot riding on its slick new Windows 8 OS, as does the entire PC industry. But according to a DigiTimes report, we shouldn't necessarily expect a wave of new low-priced computers running the operating system at launch.

The article cites the usual unnamed "supply chain" sources saying that laptop makers are concerned about the higher costs of supporting Windows 8's touch-screen capabilities, as well as tacking on the cost on the new OS itself. The result could be prices for snazzy new laptop/tablet hybrids that are higher than the mainstream will tolerate, at least when Windows 8 initially ships. (As one commenter has already noted below, there will of course be many Windows 8 PCs that aren't touch enabled, but Microsoft has made the touch capabilities a major selling point for the new OS.)

Those concerns add to an already tough position notebook manufacturers find themselves in with Intel-based Ultrabooks, which have been slow to fall in price for many models. Margins are already razor-thin, as Intel reportedly keeps processor prices high, and may only shrink as the cost of Windows 8 is factored in.

The result, according to DigiTimes, could be that demand for Windows 8 PCs may not pick up steam until 2013, which wouldn't bode well for Microsoft or computer manufacturers. Would Microsoft take a page out of Intel's playbook, and help manufacturers out with large marketing subsidies to keep costs as low as possible for Windows 8 systems?

These pricing issues may not matter much to users, since nearly half of them still use Windows XP. How much are you willing to spend on a new Windows 8 PC?

Related stories:

Windows 8: How to touch-enable your existing PC without breaking the bank

Ultrabooks: The price is right, finally

Windows 8: Where's our hardware reimagined?

Intel: Windows 8 to drive laptops with touch screens

What's new in the Windows 8 beta

Microsoft Office 15 apps to include 'touch mode'

Topics: Hardware, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Windows


Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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