A report in The Wall Street Journal claims that Microsoft is lowering the price of Windows 8 and Office 2013 to spur development of new, low-cost Windows devices with smaller screens and form factors. And while Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the report outright, a comment from the firm suggests this is exactly what’s happening.
To be clear, these price cuts are for hardware makers, not consumers, and then only for a new class of smaller PC devices. Those individuals interested in actually purchasing this software will continue to pay full price.
Citing unnamed “people familiar with the situation,” The Wall Street Journal report says that Microsoft is jumpstarting a push to smaller PC devices, most likely including tablets with 7-inch screens or similar. The new devices would arrive in time for the 2013 holiday selling season and will ostensibly compete with Apple’s iPad mini, Google’s Nexus 7, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, and other small computing devices.
Amazingly, Microsoft provided a comment that seems to vaguely confirm the report.
“As we've said before, Windows 8 was built to scale across all sizes of PCs and tablets, large and small," a Microsoft spokesperson said. “We continue to work with partners to ensure that Windows is available across a diverse range of devices.”
The report even provides the new pricing: $30 for both Windows 8 and Office 2013 on new PC devices with screens smaller than 10.8 inches. The current price for this bundle to PC makers is about $120, according to the report, though my sources say that PC makers typically pay around $50 for just Windows.
Looked at logically, I think the WSJ report is missing a key piece: This new bundle price must include Windows RT as well, or even be specific to Windows RT. Smaller devices are typically consumption-oriented, unlike mainstream PCs, and mostly used for entertainment. And Windows RT, which does include a basic version of Office 2013, is better tailored for such devices.