Microsoft officially announces the Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU

Microsoft officially announces the Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU

Summary: The Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU is now official. Microsoft is making this edition available to its hardware partners to try to get Windows on smaller, cheaper devices.


Microsoft officials officially acknowledged the existence of the rumored Windows 8.1 with Bing version of the product in a blog post on May 23.


Word of the existence of Windows 8.1 with Bing first leaked a few months ago. The new SKU sets Bing as the default search engine, though users are allowed to change that on devices with the SKU is installed.

Tipsters have told me and others that this Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU is the one that Microsoft is making available to OEMs either for free or a substantially reduced rate. I'm not sure whether this is the only Windows 8.1 SKU that Microsoft is making available for free to its OEMs, but it may be. Officials have said previously that Windows is now available for free for Windows Phone and Windows tablet makers building devices with screen sizes under nine inches.

Windows 8.1 with Bing is one piece of Microsoft's experimentation with how to monetize Windows. Microsoft already has thrown a lot of software and services in for free with Windows 8, so it needs to find ways to make money in a world where the pressure to drop OS licensing fees is increasing.

The Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU will be available only preloaded on OEM devices, Microsoft officials said. It's not available for purchase as a standalone SKU. Some of the devices running this SKU, "in particular tablets, will also come with Office or a one-year subscription to Office 365," according to Microsoft's blog post.

Microsoft disclosed the existence of the new SKU in preparation for new Windows devices that will debut at the Computex show in Taipei in a couple of weeks.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Tablets


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Bing

    This better not include the Bing Bar or similar crapware.
    • The Bing Bar is fine.

      It's other crapware like the Ask Bar that I'm worried about.
      • So is Microsoft. They need a way to discourage OEMs from adding ...

        ... crapware (especially "search" crapware) to OEM hardware. What better way than free licensing.
        M Wagner
    • Late to the party?

      Bing Bar was deprecated long ago.

      Now, Bing Desktop OTOH is still supported. I have customers that love it for the daily wallpapers ('Amazing Lock Screen' is a good, free app for cycling your Windows 8.x lock screen pic too, since a lot of users don't even see the desktop on a regular basis).
    • Does ti really matter as long as you can turn it off?

      M Wagner
      • Turn off

        Crapware can be turned of off/deinstalled. If not we usually call it malware.
        Yes, crapware matters.
  • Call us back

    When Windows 9 with no trace of WinRT or the godawful Metro overlay screens comes out.
    • That's not going to happen

      You might as well get used to that idea, WinRT is going to live even if the Start Screen gets replaced by Start Menu 2.0. I say this because WinRT is what's used to make MODERN UI APPS. :|
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Don't forget that

        The universal apps will all have to be WinRT based. WinRT isn't going anywhere. The application launcher itself and how the apps act on the desktop (hopefully windowed modern apps) may change, but the actual WinRT model won't be abandoned.
      • Metro vs The Desktop

        I really don't mind Metro over the desktop as a concept I just do not like the implementation of it. I would like Metro to have floating windows AND snap windows. I would like Metro to give me the option to have a taskbar of some sort. I want Metro settings windows to be far more detailed with far more granular settings.

        Just a side rant, why do I have to go to the desktop for something like IE to get all the very intricate settings for IE? Why aren't these in the Metro version of IE if Metro is suppose to be the future of Windows. Things like this is WHY Metro is only a half a$% solution so far.
        Rann Xeroxx
        • I understand your beef.

          They've got a delicate balancing act to keep up with the metro apps. I'd love more options and controls in them too, but keep in mind they're supposed to be easy to use apps, especially on tablets. The idea behind metro apps so far has been the kiss principle, that's almost what the tablet market has dictated? Something definitely needs to change in metro apps in general if they want people to use them on the desktop. The ideas behind WinRT are sound, they just need to continue to evolve the API, and hopefully it'll become much more useful. They've done a decent job fixing the windows 8 user interface, especially with the last update and the next scheduled one with the start menu 2.0 and possibly even windowed metro apps, now they need to do the same thing with the whole WinRT model.

          I know Microsoft hasn't put a huge amount of options in their apps (usually just the major stuff), but there's a nothing stopping other developers from doing it. I think once we see metro apps with floating desktop windows developers might start putting in a lot more options, but that's just a wild guess.
    • If you don't care about Windows 8...

      ... then why are you here?

      This is about a Windows 8 SKU with Bing as the default browser.

      Seriously, it's fine if you don't like Microsoft, but don't post about unrelated things.
    • Whatev...

      It's interesting how people complain that Windows 8 is not like Windows 7... when it's almost identical to Windows 7, except for the totally avoidable Start Screen.

      And then their solution (if Metro isn't removed altogether) is to move to OSX, or Android, or Chrome which have almost nothing in common with Windows 7. lol
    • the number you have reached...

      is not available. the desktop is dead.
      • Not quite yet but it is certainly on its way to retirement for consumers.

        M Wagner
        • There is no way this is true

          I see lots of consumers and observe their PC use.... Consumers live in the desktop. That will remain true for some time to come.
    • dilettante

      I'm suprised you can see Metro if you've got your head in the sand.
    • Call us back

      When you decide to remain on topic.
    • Call Us Back When You Switch To Mac.

      Take that, ABMer.
  • Microsoft officially announces the Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU

    This should save the user time of having to change the default search engine to Microsoft Bing. I set it as the default whenever I use someone's computer. Microsoft is just saving me a step.