If $30 is the smaller-screen price only, this could be a case of Microsoft acknowledging the inevitable fact that smaller-screen devices tend to be cheaper than larger-screen PCs. In the old Windows-is-the-only-game-in-town days, Microsoft wouldn't have hesitated in charging PC makers $120 per copy for Windows even if it were to be housed in a $200-$300 device. In these post-PC/PC-plus days, that kind of pricing isn't realistic.
With Windows 7, Microsoft allegedly slashed the prices it was charging netbook makers for each copy of Windows. Microsoft did this because it was willing to do whatever it took to keep Linux from winning in that space. Maybe this is a parallel situation with Windows 8 and Microsoft is willing to hack the price it's charging OEMs to load Windows 8 on mini tablets to thwart Android.
Regardless of how and if Microsoft's Windows 8 OEM pricing is changing, I'm wondering what these coming Windows 8 mini tablets are going to look like. Will OEMs continue their race to the bottom? Will they be little more than cheaply made netbooks hidden under a touch screen? Or will these mini Windows 8 tablets come in around $500 or so -- in other words, around the same price as the Microsoft Surface RT (and hopefully more like the RT in terms of device quality)?
Remember: It was netbook sales that propped up Microsoft's Windows tallies, even as PC demand began to soften. While Microsoft no doubt would prefer to be able to charge PC makers as much as the market will bear per copy of Windows, a Windows 8 device sale is a Windows 8 device sale....