Report: Microsoft to cut Windows 8.1 pricing for sub-$250 devices

Windows 8.1 could be headed to cheaper tablets. A Bloomberg report posted this weekend says makers of sub-$250 devices will soon be able to buy Windows licenses at up to a 70% discount.

The info comes from "people familiar with the program," who told Bloomberg that Microsoft currently charges device makers $50 per Windows license. As part of the new discount, that price will drop to $15 for sub-$250 systems. "The discount will apply to any products that meet the price limit, with no restrictions on the size or type of device," Bloomberg says. This wouldn't be the first time some device makers receive substantial discounts, but this time, the discounts could be applied indiscriminately.

Microsoft hasn't officially confirmed the figures above, but it has hinted in no uncertain terms that a discount is coming. Here's a snippet from a blog post by Joe Belfiore, Microsoft VP of Windows Phone Program Management & Design, that went up on Sunday:

Over the next few months, we'll continue to deliver innovation and progression with an update to Windows 8.1, coming this spring. We're especially excited about several things I want to preview with you here.

  • We'll enable our partners to build lower cost hardware for a great Windows experience at highly competitive price points.

(Emphasis is from Belfiore's post.)

As Bloomberg points out, lower price tags could make Windows tablets more compelling alternatives to Android-based offerings. That, in turn, could help Microsoft gain precious market share in the tablet segment. Lower pricing could also help Windows systems stay competitive in the face of increasingly popular Chromebooks.

The most affordable Windows 8.1 tablet on the Microsoft Store right now is Dell's Venue 8 Pro 32GB, which is down to $229. It's not clear whether that's a temporary sale or a result of the aforementioned licensing discount. Most other 8" Windows 8.1 slates are priced at $300 or more, while while 7" Android alternatives can be found for well under $200. (Thanks to Neowin for the links.)

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