Microsoft taking chance on free Windows 8.1 giveaway?


Pass, go, or collect?

This is not a Nigerian "419" scam, a method to earn millions browsing the web from home, or an attempt to sell a bridge in Brooklyn. However, some bloggers are having a hard time believing rumors that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will soon give Windows 8.1 away for free.

Recent screenshots of a mysterious "Windows 8.1 with Bing" build are selling many bloggers on the idea though. Competing against legions of devices and tablets not running a Microsoft OS, the boys in Bellevue may be hoping this deal won't be too good to pass up.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers are skeptically optimistic and optimistically skeptical.

Filling in for our humble blogwatcher Richi Jennings, is a humbler Stephen Glasskeys.


Buzzing our ears, Brad Chacos goes entomological:

Late last week...Windows leaker Wzor released screenshots [and build] of a curious new specimen: Windows 8.1 with Bing.


Windows 8.1 with Bing is an experiment designed to test ways to provide [a cheap or free] Windows 8.1 upgrade for Windows 7 users, while simultaneously [monetizing Microsoft services].  MORE


Mad scientist Tom Warren performs growth experiments:

Microsoft is currently experimenting with a free version of Windows 8.1...that could boost the number of [users].


This Bing-powered version...may also be offered to PC makers as part of recent license cuts for devices under $250.  MORE


Preston Gralla finds wireless varieties grow fastest:

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker says better days are ahead for Windows Phone, while both Android and iOS will lose market share.


Where will Windows Phone's growth come from? Primarily in emerging markets, says IDC.


So if IDC is right...Microsoft may succeed in mobile by becoming a popular budget brand, not targeting the high end.  MORE


And Peter Bright discovers a new species:

Microsoft is expected to expand the lineup of Windows 8.1 versions with at least one, and probably two, new editions of the operating system.


The first is a straightforward. ... [Currently] Windows Enterprise is only available [with] Software Assurance agreements. Microsoft has confirmed...[starting] March 1, Windows Enterprise will be sold to any company with an Open, Select, or Select Plus plan.


The second is a little more mysterious. [Leaks of] "Windows 8.1 with Bing" have materialized. It's not entirely clear yet what "with Bing" actually implies. Windows 8.1 already integrates Bing-powered services, and if it had any more, Bing people might think they were watching Groundhog Day.  MORE


Predicting a free future, Marey Jo Foley monetizes her experiments:

[Windows 8.1 with Bing], from what my contacts are saying, is key to Microsoft's experimentation with monetization. I hear [it] has only minor differences from the current Windows 8.1...[but it] may be a kind of placeholder for the future when consumer operating systems are, basically, free.  MORE


But Chris Merriman is aghast at the thought:

[A free or low cost] Windows 8.1 with Bing (WEPOWB) would be...designed to attract users away from...Windows 7...which has 46.7 percent market share.


As well as upgrading existing devices, WEPOWB might be offered for free or at a discount to [OEMs] to create a range of Bingbooks, which is exactly as ghastly as it sounds.  MORE


Meanwhile, Barb Darrow proposes to a hat:

Over the past 40 years Microsoft has built its mega-billion-dollar business around the Windows [OS and apps]. But as the company seeks to preserve its enterprise power in the cloud’s a bold proposal: Microsoft should buy Red Hat.  MORE

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