Microsoft is reportedly developing a free version of its Windows 8.1 operating system in an effort to drastically increase the OS’ user base. Dubbed Microsoft 8.1 with Bing, the OS could be offered to OEMs or end users as a means to provide customers with access to important Microsoft services. According to a report from The Verge, which cites unnamed sources, Windows 8.1 with Bing could be made available as an upgrade to Windows 7 users.
This isn’t the first time Windows 8.1 with Bing has been reported on. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, said the SKU could be part of Microsoft’s effort to monetize different aspects of its software offerings. That said, Foley admits she is unsure if Windows 8.1 with Bing will offer any Bing-specific user incentives. Truth be told, Windows 8.1 already has a built-in Bing SmartSearch feature that can search a user’s PC, OneDrive and the Web in one shot.
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Microsoft has tried to entice consumers to use their services before. The recently announced Android-powered Nokia X phone will come preloaded with Windows OneDrive and offer free Skype calling. Nokia and Microsoft hope the move will pull in Android users who have never been exposed to the Microsoft’s smartphone apps and eventually. The thinking is that if users enjoy the apps, they will naturally want migrate to Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft’s Qi Lu, who heads the company’s Bing efforts, has previously gone on record saying the company is working to convert Bing into an information platform that it can then embed in any device or service. The idea is to build Bing into a first-class offering that will help the company take share from Google.