Microsoft is the only major company still selling operating systems to users. Other popular operating systems – like Android – are free, while some – like Apple’s Mac OS – are generally included within the cost of a computer with free upgrades.
Microsoft may be changing that model slightly over the coming months as it plans to release a free version of Windows 8.1.
That’s what the latest rumors out of Redmond, Washington are saying. According to tech rumor guru The Verge, Microsoft is considering a free, stripped-down version of Windows 8.1 that would include basic features, apps, and services.
Free Windows 8.1 would include Bing and would be either free or extremely cheap. It would be a good trial or starting point for users jumping from other operating systems.
Microsoft is also considering a subsidy on Windows Phone. That subsidy would be targeted at manufacturers and would be designed to encourage them to make more Windows Phone handsets.
The Verge’s sources have been right before, but they’ve also been horribly wrong. Releasing a free operating system is something that Microsoft has never done before, which is why I don’t feel like this will ever come true.
However, I can see Microsoft releasing a cheaper model of Windows 8.1 – say for between $20 and $30 – designed to appeal to budget basic PC users.
Whether the stripped down version of Windows 8.1 is given to users or manufacturers, it will undoubtedly lead to increased market share for Windows 8.1. Even if that comes at the expense of lost license revenue for Microsoft, that probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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