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Microsoft has officially announced a new edition of Windows 8.1

The rumors were true: On Friday, Microsoft announced Windows 8.1 with Bing, a new version of Windows 8.1 available only to hardware manufacturers. The new edition of Windows appears to be the same as the standard version of Windows 8.1 but with one major distinction: Windows 8.1 with Bing ships with Microsoft’s search engine set as the default in Internet Explorer. That’s no major change in and of itself, as Windows 8.1 already defaults to Internet Explorer and Bing. Hardware partners can change those settings on the devices they ship with normal versions of Windows, however. 

Microsoft officials officially acknowledged the existence of the rumored Windows 8.1 with Bing version of the product in a blog post on May 23. Word of the existence of Windows 8.1 with Bing first leaked a few months ago. The new SKU sets Bing as the default search engine, though users are allowed to change that on devices with the SKU is installed. Tipsters have told me and others that this Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU is the one that Microsoft is making available to OEMseither for free or a substantially reduced rate. I’m not sure whether this is the only Windows 8.1 SKU that Microsoft is making available for free to its OEMs, but it may be. Officials have said previously that Windows is now available for free for Windows Phone and Windows tablet makers building devices with screen sizes under nine inchesWindows 8.1 with Bing is one piece of Microsoft’s experimentation with how to monetize Windows. Microsoft already has thrown a lot of software and services in for free with Windows 8, so it needs to find ways to make money in a world where the pressure to drop OS licensing fees is increasing.

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Written by Alfie Joshua

Alfie Joshua is the editor at Auto in the News. Find him on Twitter, and Pinterest.

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