Corporates would have ignored Win8 regardless
Massive companies that are still in the process of eliminating Windows XP dependencies in their array o mission critical software are in no hurry to have the latest. Getting past the anything goes era of ignoring the guidelines and producing software that uses antiques installers and techniques that threaten to trash the registry is a big leap for these outfits after decades of being able to ignore such things. Nevermind that it lead to huge costs in unreliability that could have been avoided if vendors were required to follow the XP guidelines published back in 2001. They painted themselves into this corner and once free won't be in any hurry for the next change.
Windows 8 could be completely non-controversial. Just all under the hood improvements and little change to the user facing portion. And it wouldn't matter for the corporates who have only recently gotten to Win7 or are still in the process. If Apple had a big footprint in the corporate market it would be facing a similar problem with its frequent OS releases. At the least, they would have to retain backward compatibility much longer than they do now. Being shut out from that market gives them freedom to do things that serve the other markets better.
It's pretty obvious how Windows RT will be a profit maker if they find they need to pretty much give it away to compete. Every bit of software for those systems, outside of corporate sideloading, comes through the Windows Store and Microsoft makes a nice slice on that stuff. It's finding a ground in between Apple where you can only buy hardware from them and only get software through them, and Google whose OS might not even be clearly named on a device like the Kindle Fire and may have its own app store rather than use Google's.
It appears if Microsoft accepted the new normal and sold the OS for a token amount in favor of focusing on the app store for profits, they could give Google a serious problem. So long as this is an OS installed solely by OEMs it shouldn't affect sales on the Windows 8 version. But it may make sense to cut the price a good deal if the app stores proves a money maker there as well.
Change is hard and uncomfortable but it has to happen now and then. The hard part is that there is no going back. Once the price tag of the OS is majorly reduced it cannot revert. Over the years, if you consider inflation and the massive growth of the feature set, Windows has gotten a lot cheaper. A consumer PC license has always been available for around $100. In the early days this meant getting DOS and Windows 3.x for $50 if you bought them together. Later, it meant Upgrade packages of the latest consumer edition for around $90 or the same price for an OEM full install version if you built your own machine.
$100 is a much lesser amount for the product than in 1992. The product does vastly more and the money is greatly devalued. (In the crudest terms, $100 in 1992 is equivalent to $164.87 today.) This would be fine if everybody was selling OSes as retail items or tied it exclusively to their brand of hardware. But they aren't. Android is out there and cannot be ignored on devices like tablets as Linux could on desktop PCs.
So the business model must change. Finding not too much and too little is the trick.