There was all this chatter late in the week about a Microsoft campaign to boost the acceptance of Window 8.
According to multiple sites, including The Verge, the idea is that Microsoft would make a stripped-down version of the operating system, dubbed “Windows 8.1 With Bing” available to users of the Windows 7 operating system as a free or low-cost upgrade for Windows 7 users. It may also be offered to computer manufacturers, The Verge said.
Supposedly the upgrade would include Office, Skype and the OneDrive cloud-storage service.
“Windows 8.1 with Bing” doesn’t exist in a commercial form. You can see screenshots of the acceptance page here. The screenshot was published by the Russian leaker Wzor. (We don’t know Wzor and don’t presume to know how he/she found the software.)
It’s not clear if “Windows 8.1 With Bing” will ever exist in a commercial form. Some pieces of the idea don’t really make sense for a company that monetizes as much of its software as it can.
You can buy Office as a traditional download that live on your hard drive. There’s a version for Windows phones. And Office can be purchased on a subscription basis as Office 365.
Perhaps most important is this question: What does “with Bing” mean? Bing already has been part of Windows 8 and 8.1. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley wondered if, in the future, Windows would be powered by Bing. By that, one would infer, features in Windows would be accessed by Bing searches.
The dilemma Microsoft has had overall with Windows 8 and 8.1 is that a great many Windows 7 users are wary of upgrading because so many of the features don’t work unless you use a touch-screen computer. That probably explains why only 200 million or so licenses had been sold by early February, a slower sales rates compared with the very popular Windows 7.
And there’s a further issue. Windows 8 and 8.1 seem to have been designed for a consumer audience and tablet users as opposed to business users and others. So at the very least, then, convincing business customers to use Windows 8.1 doesn’t make sense unless you upgrade the computer as well. And it’s pretty clear that Microsoft recognizes that the cute tiles on the Windows 8 desk top need some revisions to fit into a work environment.
Many of these questions may be answered when Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 Update 1 in April. Update 1 appears to be the new terminology for Service Pack, the packages of software Microsoft would release for various products that fix the hundreds of bugs that invariably come up. One goal of the release is to make Windows 8.1 friendlier to use for users who prefer to use a mouse.
All of this chatter comes as Microsoft shares gained 1.2 percent in February and are up 2.4 percent for the year. Google is up 8.5% on the year. But Apple is down 6.2 percent, and Amazon.com is off 9.2 percent. Facebook is up 25.3 percent.
(Full disclosure: This post was written on a touch-screen computer and Windows 8.1.)