Windows 8 to increase PC production costs

ODMs and brand vendors squabble over who will cover the additional costs.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's new Windows 8 OA 3.0 verification system will add complication and costs for ODMs (Original Device Manufacturers) who create and build PCs for the big name OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). These costs will, undoubtedly, be passed on to us, the consumers.

Note: The DigiTimes piece inaccurately refers to OA 3.0 as being incorporated into the BIOS. What we are actually talking about here is UEFI firmware, which all Windows 8 certified systems must have.

According to DigiTimes, the issue revolves around Microsoft's new activation system for Windows 8.

For the OA 3.0, Microsoft plans to pre-install the Windows 8 operating system into PC's BIOS and will have consumers key-in the authorization key to activate the software through an Internet connection and will completely abandon its previous method of using a COA [Certificate of Authenticity] label.

OEM BIOS activation is nothing new. OA was first seen in Windows XP, and OA 2.0 with Windows Vista and Windows 7. Both of these mechanisms are now easily bypassed by pirates looking to install/sell unlicences copies of Windows.

However, now rather than shipping PCs with a COA, keys will be incorporated in the system's UEFI firmware, and this will increase production costs for ODMs because each machine will require individual attention to squirt the key into the UFI firmware (rather than just sticking on the COA). Technicians will also require more training. Finally, the absence of a certificate on the machine could also increase costs because of installation overlap (Microsoft charges a per-install fee, so having to install a second key because of an error would increase costs.

There's also concern about who will bear these extra costs:

The sources also revealed that the ODMs believe Microsoft is playing a two-faced game with the notebook players - on the one hand, the software giant has told notebook ODMs that brand vendors will pay all the increased cost, while they told the brand vendors that ODMs will be responsible for the cost.

One thing is for sure ... you and I will be the ones ultimately footing this bill.

(Image credit: jollyUK)


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