Will Windows 8 PCs cost too much at launch?

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, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • $0

    I will spend $0. In fact, people may be clamoring to buy my year-old Windows 7 desktop at that point, but I will keep that because Service Pack 2 for it will make it even more valuable. They did not learn from Vista that flashy new bells and whistles for an OS is not what people want. Chances are the company you work for still uses XP, too.
    D.J. 43
    • In Australia . . .

      . . . The RRP for W7 Hp is still $300 and about $500 for Ultimate. W8 will no doubt be just as expensive. :-(
      • Very few people will upgrade to Windows 8 on existing hardware ...

        ... just as it has always been. OEMs have always paid $500 or less for Windows and that won't change. I expect that by the 2012 holiday season, for $400-USA and up, consumers will be able to choose between an Apple iPad, an Android tablet, and a Windows-RT (ARM) tablet. Maybe $100-USA more for a full Windows 8 (Intel) tablet
        M Wagner
      • No OEM pays RRP.

        OEM's get significant discounts compared to retail licensing (Win7 Ultimate OEM $139: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116997).
      • at bitcrazed

        that link says $189 for me.

      • Pricing

        $58 to upgrade (Hard Copy)
        $40 (Digital Copy)
        Jeremy Soo
    • Guess what?

      Those "flashy new bells and whistles" for Vista are all still in Win7 and you seem to like them all. The problem with Vista was mainly lack of driver support and not enought "flashy new bells and whistles", but Win7 took care of that. This time Win8 appears to have all the drivers and has a lot of "flashy new bells and whistles".
      • I wouldn't call Metro flashy, maybe retro, like Windows for Workgroups

      • @Gisabun

        @Gisabun: I would agree that the stability of Vista was predominantly in the hands of hardware vendor. However, I have had poor experience with Vista performance. On my quad-core desktop, it was flying. On my Core 2 at 2 GHz laptop with 2GB of memory, it was dog slow. The hard drive kept thrashing (SuperFetch and all of those fancy caching), and it caused the fan to run significantly louder and longer. I upgraded Vista to Windows 7, and the difference was night-and-day. I installed Windows 8 on the same laptop, and it's flying. Vista was just slow.
    • And Some People

      And some people like you think the earth is still flat and bury their heads in the sand.
    • vista was slow

      Actually, I would say they learned very well. The reasons why Vista "failed" was:

      1. Poor driver support - hardware were incompatible
      2. Poor performance - even with top end machine
      3. Poor stability - due to poor driver
      4. Poor software compatibility

      Vista provided the necessary foundation to build 7, which is further refined in 8. From my experience with Windows 8 CP, the performance on Windows 8 is by all account much faster than that of Windows 7. The only potential obstacle is the change in the start menu. It's interesting that you claim people don't like flashy and shiny thing, but yet many critics are calling metro interface as bland and boring.
      • Errr......

        All 4 points of yours could be attributed to idiots who installed Vista as soon as it came out. Blame driver support on the hardware manufacturers. They provide the drivers [including most found built into Windows]. Blame software on the fact that developers didn't release 64-bit apps [or 32-bit compatible apps] in a timely manner.
        You install Vista now and everything you said went out the window.
    • Flashy bells and whistles: in Vista and 8

      How I would define Windows 8's flashy bells and whistles: the touchscreen-centered interface. Just like you needed all drivers available, and a more powerful processor for using Vista, 8 also begs the question whether upgrading is worth it unless you already have a touchscreen. Even then, whether a touchscreen vs. a mouse is really what you want to use. I'm positive businesses won't, because they are practically luddites compared to some us individually who really get into this stuff.
      D.J. 43
  • Non touch hardware?

    Surely, they'll still sell non touch hardware (You don't need touch for 8). It runs great on my circa 2009 HP DM3. Other than that all I plan to spen is the cost for Windows 8 Pro. We'll have to see how much that is because I'm hoping for a student discount.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • student discount

      Because of the prevalence of OEM licenses, does MSFT ever give student discounts for Windows?

      Even if they did, if the EULA were like Office academic licenses, the license ends when you graduate. You'd be thrilled to have bought a discounted Windows academic license then get to buy a full price Windows license?
      • Student Discount

        Microsoft does give Academic Discounts for institutions and students. Schools are one of the only markets that can downgrade the OEM license to Win Home Premium on the Desktop and upgrade through Volume Licensing. When you pair this with the EES subscription license, many schools can pay for all/much of their EES licensing based off the savings on the OEM side alone.

        As for students, if you have an EES with Student Option in HiEd, if the school opts for Office and/or OS, the students graduate with a perpetual license of the most current version.
      • Yes, . . .

        . . . have a look at the "It's not cheating" website. Unfortunately, the version of W7 available is only an upgrade; not a full version.
      • @OriTech

        Uhhhh...... What?
    • I actually like

      I actually like using Windows 8 RC on a desktop with a mouse and a keyboard. I plan to buy a new computer when W8 gets released and it's not going to have a touch screen.
  • Win 8 smacks of "this is what you want to buy"-itis

    Is anyone demanding a tablet interface for their desktop? Who ARE these customers?