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back to article Microsoft may slash price of Windows 8.1 on cheap 'slabs

Microsoft has reportedly slashed the price of Windows 8.1 for anyone willing to install the operating on a device that sells for fewer than $US250. Bloomberg cites “people familiar with the matter” as saying Microsoft usually sells Windows for $50 a pop, but is floating the idea of a $15 price tag for OEMs working on low-priced …

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When are they going to get it in their thick skulls...

We don't want Windows on a tablet or phone!

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Re: When are they going to get it in their thick skulls...

They can give it away for free, but that doesn't mean people will want it.

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Re: When are they going to get it in their thick skulls...

To the contrary, I'm waiting for a W8 tablet to get under the $200 mark. I don't have a tablet yet, but I specifically want a Windows one for compatibility with my home network.

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Re: When are they going to get it in their thick skulls...

$15 is still a lot more than the $2-$5 that MS extorts from Android devices.

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Re: When are they going to get it in their thick skulls...

Got to admit, Win 8 on a touch device is a nice experience, just the store badly needs apps. Having moved from my many years of using Android on my personal phone and having an iPhone for work when I moved to a Nokia 520 I don't think I will look back at Android as Win 8 feels fluid and runs much better than my Android phones ever had!

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Re: When are they going to get it in their thick skulls...

Just make sure you downvote this guy (and me obviously) for saying that the cheapest WP8 device running on the least powerful hardware still feels slicker than the android it replaced.

My friend with a Lumia 925 also notes how much smoother and elegant it is compared to the Galaxy S2 it replaced - a phone I hear that was much-loved by its owners although admittedly, presumably slower than the S3.

One thing's for sure, the pics taken with the 925 blow all of them to shit.

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Don't they listen to Darwin?

The theory of the free market is that it gives people the best outcomes. It is just like evolution: the fitness function is whether people are prepared to pay ticket price for the product to make it financially viable.

When you fiddle with the fitness function, you get poor outcomes. Feed the weak sparrows that should be weeded out by a hard winter and you're just breeding weak sparrows instead of strong ones. But no, we feel sorry for the sparrows, feed them and do them a disservice as a species.

Microsoft has such enormous cash reserves it can, and does, give products life support. As a result, crap products that should die, and be replaced by better ones, are instead kept alive for ideological reasons. In the long run this will make their offerings, and ultimately MS as a whole, weaker.

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Re: Don't they listen to Darwin?

Your example of feeding sparrows is bollocks. If you put out food for birds, it isn't going to save any weak birds that would have died naturally. The stronger sparrows are going to get the majority of the food you put out, not the weak ones. If the weak one were going to lose out on food available without you, they're still going to lose out on the food you provide.

As far as "Free market" goes, a large well financed company can afford to waste money on products sometimes. That's actually part of a free market. Of course, a large well financed company with a lousy product can out market a small company with a better product and put them out of business too. That's also a part of free market theory.

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Re: Don't they listen to Darwin?

"Microsoft has such enormous cash reserves it can, and does, give products life support. As a result, crap products that should die, and be replaced by better ones, are instead kept alive for ideological reasons. In the long run this will make their offerings, and ultimately MS as a whole, weaker."

Yes, but Win 8.1 is basically the only thing that they've got to sell at the moment. It's not realistic to expect them to give up on 8.1 and not sell anything until 9 is ready, is it?

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didn't they do this for netbooks

a while back?

Looks like it was called windows 7 starter edition, though I don't see mention of what the cost was.

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Re: didn't they do this for netbooks

I remember something about the W7 castrated edition being £15 for OEM so you're looking at $25.

It was painful to use but it did the job and killed Linux on the Netbooks.

Maybe MS hopes that history will repeat itself.

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Anonymous Coward

Here Microsoft was selling their own Surface RT tablets and couldn't sell them at that price and Microsoft could give their OS away in the process.

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8.1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...

"If correct, the report signals that Microsoft thinks low-cost devices are the key to making inroads with Windows 8.1."

The "key" to making "inroads" with Windows 8.1 is replacing it with a usable desktop OS: Windows 9.

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Re: 8.1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...

In my experience, Windows 8 is a very usable desktop OS, more versatile and improved over Windows 7. Not sufficiently better that most enterprises should feel in any hurry to go through an upgrade program as has happened in recent years with the move to Windows 7.

Turtle - I'm curious, what is it about Windows 8 that you find unusable?

Certainly introduction of Windows 8 and subsequent marketing has been shambolic and its been like watching paint dry waiting for Microsoft to take the obvious steps needed, technical, licensing etc.

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Re: 8.1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...

Win7 is such a brilliant OS it is not surprising that it is hard to replace. The first time I hit Alt-Tab I was amazed (never saw it on Vista, hardly used it).

I don't miss the icons all over the desktop when using Win8 (I don't own one but use one), because I never get to use the icons on Win7 anyway - the desktop is covered by apps almost all of the time.

Having loads of useful info on the desktop on Win8 saves having to start apps in many cases, it is like the sidebar apps on Win7, except there are loads more and they are never covered up, and you can scroll tons of them into view and group them (it's like having the 3.1 manager back).

Kinda hoping the laptop will die so I have to get a new one - cognitive dissonance prevents the waste otherwise.

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I'll wait until it goes on sale

Fifteen bucks is still a bit steep for me.

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Go

Interesting idea...

I expect the upgradable 239.99 tablet coming soon. It'll contain the operating system and an extra few dollar will make it a full-fledged desktop/notebook/whatever computer.

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Make it free

I had always thought it justified that Microsoft (or any company) sells a product for a price (in cash).

But, since MS also collects users' data to "..improve users' experience.." now, it has no right to charge (in cash) now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Make it free @solo

"But, since MS also collects users' data to "..improve users' experience.." now, it has no right to charge (in cash) now."

They aren't connected.

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Re: Make it free

All those metrics were what Win8 was based on. Sinofsky had a series of extremely detailed blog posts showing actual workflow and how people actually used computers every day.

One interesting result of this was that for over 90% of actual power users, the Start Menu was utterly redundant - they just type the name of the application they want to run in the Search box at the bottom of said Start Menu.

Above all else, this is what makes me think that the constant outpouring of hate for Start Screen - which works exactly the same way, ie hit the Windows key and start typing - comes from newbs who just like to talk about how awesome they are.

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Re: Make it free

"But, since MS also collects users' data to "..improve users' experience.." now, it has no right to charge (in cash) now."

Actually that data was used to drive the interface developments you've seen in Windows 7 and Windows 8. They removed the stuff people who participated didn't click on, and put stuff in that they did. Sadly for commentards on here, most geeks declined to take part so the interface is now ideal for non technical users.

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Re: Make it free

"..90% of actual power users.."

Here is what my feelings (Okay, it is not a study) say. The problem is that:

90% of actual power users DON'T use Windows.

90% of actual Windows users are NOT power users.

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Re: Make it free

Well, obviously since they were collecting data from Windows installations, that would be the kind of user who does more than make Powerpoints and watch Facebook and make retarded comments on the Register.

How do you find a power user? I know how I would. Look for Autohotkey, look for Notepad++, look for a non-Express edition of Visual Studio, look for use of the Powershell cmd prompt, look for actual use of SQL Profiler, examine the amount of time spent remotely managing other installs.

Therefore my feelings (ok, not a study) say your feelings are irrelevant.

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Unhappy

Re: Make it free

I don't want to hurt someone's feelings. I, myself, have thrown away Android for owning a WinPhone and own experience of adding value to the WinStore. But guess what? Their Dev Center download stats are updated after 2 days and they call it regular. Doesn't it give feelings that either Azure is not powerful enough or the admins who use it? Or they just don't use what they develop?

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Re: Make it free

Anyone who cares about the presence or absence of the sodding start menu is not a power user by definition, surely. No need to look for powershell or dev tools.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Make it free

Absence of the holy Start menu is not a complain from the power users, but quite the contrary.

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Re: Make it free

Except you can say no to the collection easily at install time. It would be interesting if you got it free when you say yes and had to pay $50 when you said no.

I wonder what you would say? Oh wait... I already know.

Also, it is different data, things like apps crashing etc. not email content and the like. Search terms are looked at for ad direction though.

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Re: Make it free

Have to agree, why the fuck do people search through all that shit in the start menus when you can just tap a couple of letters?

One hardly needs to know where anything is.

I am not sure people realise that it also searches emails and files (INSIDE THEM for gods sake), everything (except the web, which Win8.1 does making it even better). It even will search TIFFs using OCR FFS (if you turn on the feature since this is definitely a specialist requirement).

Presumably people go to mail and type search in the box - wow, amazing, so last decade.

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Re: Make it free

Who cares about the app crashing data. Even Google lets you turn it off on Android.

The real collection is the apps bundled with OS. MS has 1 counterpart for each app Google offers in Android.

The only remaining reason for the price is that MS is not able to sell enough Ads. There have been times in Windows App Store where developers complain that the their apps are being used but not filled with ads most of the times. Initially, MS was filling its own ads as compensation, but now even that is gone.

Please don't look at just one side of the PRISM ;)

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Re: Make it free

@cambsukguy: "One hardly needs to know where anything is."

Sure, one hardly needs to know what is there on his computer.

He must remember it by name. And the other things not installed by him is not for his usage anyway :)

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Linux

They might reduce the cost of the OS

but will the manufacturers put anything but a crappy 1366x768 screen in the devices?

There are low cost higher res screens out there but there seems to be a total fixation at the low end that this is the only resolution screen they should supply.

I bought a 200x Dell Inspiron 9600 for 100 quid off Ebay a couple of months ago. Works perfectly once I'd cleaned the crap out of the inside. 1920x1200 screen. Sure it has only a 1.8Ghz Single core CPU but it plays HD movies ok so why does it need anything else for simple web use?

Makers could if they have half a mind give up the screen res at the expense of a core or two. I'm sure the end result would be a lot happier customer.

Naturally a lot of people will ditch the Monstrosity that is Windows 8.x and put a decen OS on in its place. Slackware anyone?

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Re: They might reduce the cost of the OS

They have to differentiate between a low cost and a high cost device, the only way they can do this is screen size and quality. While low cost hardware such as drives, processors, memory do pretty much everything you want, the difference between a poor screen and a good screen is not the cost the manufacturer buys it for but the mark up they can make from it.

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Re: They might reduce the cost of the OS

"They have to differentiate between a low cost and a high cost device"

This another way of saying they need to maintain an artificial "high cost device" price point.

Wintel have been doing these sort of market distortions for years of course, and have been getting away with it due to there being no viable non-wintel alternatives available. The trouble is that here in 2014 there are viable alternatives so this sort of market arrogance is no longer viable.

I wonder if they will ever figure this out?

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Re: They might reduce the cost of the OS

"Makers could if they have half a mind give up the screen res at the expense of a core or two. I'm sure the end result would be a lot happier customer."

A happy customer is not what they care about. They only care about you getting the thing out their door - what you think about the device afterwards is insconsequencial to their sales numbers.

That's why they sell on numbers, how physically big the screen is, how many cores or streams (or counting streams and calling them cores), how large the hard drive/sdd how much ram... Even worse, the battery life on one charge is gained much like they get fuel consumption figures for cars - user a lightweight driver, take out the spare tyre, use high octane fuel, pump the tyres up to oblivion, never test in traffic, favour downhill, you get the idea. And yes, that counts as "normal" use, if only "sometimes".

And if you think the public forums are going to give you a clue to if a particular device is a lemon, maybe not:

The official reviewers only give high praise or doom it to hell. Average users mostly give their "impression" but can be quite vocal. Reviewers have ulterior motives or an axe to grind, average users are sometimes too embarrased to say the device they were talking up beforehand, actually turned out to be a piece of crap.

The power users do their homework, look past the fluffy sales crap onto the guts of the specs, what "normal" people have to say about it, average the whole lot, and make a guess on that. Most of the time it works out. Yes, sometimes we get it wrong, but not as wrong as all the iPhone 1 users who talk of it like gold and "forget" it couldn't do a copy and paste....

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Also important to note..

They plan to make Windows 8 more friendlier for mouse usage.

Good news?

No, bad news! Because this proves that the guys who are currently working on the Windows interface are either as dumb as a doorknob or don't have the balls to tell the upper brass that they're a bunch of morons (in case this Windows 8 disaster was indeed dictated from above).

More friendlier for keyboard/mouse users? For real? Something which dozens of people who picked up the developer preview had already mentioned ten-fold in your forums LONG before the damage was DONE?

Yeah, I really cannot understand why people are losing faith in Microsoft these days.

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"it's hard to see much enthusiasm for the reinvention of the netbook"

Because Chromebooks are capturing that market since Microsoft failed to kill it by charging too much for a crippled version of XP and 7?

And just when netbooks are getting enough screen res and processor power to make a tablet with an attached keyboard and a real OS a useful thing again. All they really have to do (apart from cut the price of the OS) is to point out the failings in the Chrome-OS left there by the control freak Chrome-OS developers. Like, say, lack of Samba support. Or the inability to run things like iTunes (I know, I know!).

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Let me know

when they are offering punters £50 to take each slab. I have a wall to build in my back garden.

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New downward price pressure on PCs...

As someone with family members who insist on buying the crappiest, cheapest PCs and laptops they can find at Best Buy, this worries me a little. I wonder if manufacturers are going to try to shoehorn a working PC into a less-than-$250 price point.

The horrors of the low end PC market like the HP Pavillion range are what I'm thinking about. Some of this stuff reminds me of the Packard Bell PCs from the mid-90s. Every single corner will be cut to force it into that magic number so they don't have to pay as much for Windows. My mom, for example, never listens to me and keeps buying these pieces of junk every few years because it's too frustrating to even try to make a warranty claim. Plus, the most I've ever seen on these is a partial 1-year "ship it to us and maybe you'll get a working PC back" warranty.

I also have to deal with these things when small-business-owning friends ask me to "look at" their office PC. More often than not, it's one of these 11-pound 17" "media laptops" that was $499 at Best Buy, loaded with crapware and with very poor driver support.

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What to do with Windows 8.x, Slabs and the like

It seems Microsoft still haven’t got the message that most people don’t want a Tablet PC. They tried in 2001 and failed because it was the wrong solution to providing facilities and services of their day. Then it was basically a flat portable PC. Today they are still trying to push a later day Tablet PC, without fully realising that the market has moved on. Most of the facilities and services available to a Tablet or Mobile Phone today have very little in common with the PC. They are essentially operating and supported by their own specific ecosystem, complete with emails, apps and the rest. After all, how many people bother to use ActiveSync or its resurrected cousin Windows Mobile Device Centre.

Personally, I use my Tablet as an always on home based device, mainly for Gmail notifications, including Sky Never Miss, Goggling, dozens of apps, and of course the occasional game. Whereas, my Phone is used entirely differently, as an always with me device, with Shazam and scheduled power on/off.

So, what to do with Windows 8.1, and Slabs. Perhaps they should put an adapted version of Windows 8.x on the Xbox and call it Xbox Two. Then put handles buttons on the Slab and use it as a jumbo answer to the PS Vita. As it is I wouldn’t accept a slab as a giveaway, due to the cost of ownership.

This should leave the field clear for an all new Windows 9 resurgence. Except, by this time many of those abandoned XP users would have found a free upgrade alternative to the 100 Pound Windows 7 upgrade in the form of one of the Ubuntu distros. Not a difficult decision for someone with a Netbook that originally only cost 280 Pounds. This will of course open the eyes of those that are asked to hand over more cash for Windows 9++. Particularly as they find they also get a free Office Suite in the form of Libre Office already installed.

About this time Microsoft could well drop Windows Phone, since this is what they do with mobile devices. What to do with Windows Phone; form an alliance with Google and install Android.

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Microsoft needs to slash the price of its Enterprise Agreements.

Microsoft needs to slash the cost of its Enterprise Agreements or face the wrath of the public and future obsolescence. In this time of economic crisis and high unemployment where governments can't afford to keep essential services running why should companies of 1500 people spend close to $900,000 pa on Microsoft licensing when there are free and open source alternatives? Even if governments and companies selected Apple products it would be more fiscally responsible as Apple doesn't maintain the high annual "Microsoft Tax". I Personally would rather keep my job than use Microsoft Word ! I am not afraid of your SAM audits.

Microsoft, the people are not happy ! - The annual software taxes you have fostered on our governments and our businesses for years are "no longer an acceptable cost of doing business." We know how you abused your monopoly position in Tasmania and we are appalled !!

We the people have a choice and we say NO to expensive Microsoft !

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