Microsoft is helping hardware makers build low-priced Windows PCs to combat Chromebooks and the early results of that effort are hitting the market.
Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo are selling laptops priced less than $250 that run on Windows 8.1 with Bing, a royalty-free version of the OS. The OS is the same as Windows 8.1 but with Bing as the default search engine in Internet Explorer.
Microsoft is using Windows 8.1 with Bing, which was unveiled in May, to spread Windows to more low-cost PCs and tablets. It’s also an attempt to take on Google’s free Chrome OS, which is used in Chromebooks, an inexpensive and lightweight laptop family growing in popularity among the Web-based computing audience.
The first PCs with Windows 8.1 with Bing were shown at Computex in June. The cheapest PC is a desktop sold by Lenovo for $225, while the laptops start at $249. Microsoft has promised to bring down laptop prices to $199 with HP’s Stream 14, which has not been unveiled, although information about it has leaked out.