Select PC vendors have started shipping the first laptop and tablet models pre-loaded with Windows 8(.1) with Bing OS edition.
Although laptops with Win 8.1 Bing were expected to be the cheapest ones, their prices are not the lowest on the market at the time of this writing. But, they’re close to it. Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba offer Windows 8.1 Bing based 15.6-inch laptops for $250, equipped with the Intel Celeron “Bay Trail” processors – among the slowest CPUs used in modern laptops, only 2GB of system memory, and no built-in DVD drives. For comparison, you can now buy laptops with regular Windows for as low as $220 after discounts. Their regular prices are $250, too. Some of the examples are the Toshiba Satellite C55-B5201 and Asus X551MAV-RCLN06.They ship with the “Bay Trail” Celerons too, but instead of 2GB incorporate 4GB of RAM. These models do have DVD drives. Therefore, purchasing a Windows 8.1 Bing based laptop doesn’t make much sense currently. There’s a possibility that there will be discounts and coupons for them. But even with lowered prices it’s questionable if they will be good buying choices, since you’ll probably want to upgrade RAM at some point and still won’t be able to read and write DVDs and CDs. Additional 2GB RAM module now costs at least $20, while an external USB DVD optical drive is $15 or more.
As for the tablets, the only “Bing” series which can be bought now is the Intel Atom CPU-powered 8-inch Toshiba Encore 2. It’s priced at about $200 and $280 for the 32GB and 64GB storage variants, respectively. When put against the available Windows 8.1-based 8-inchers starting at about $220, it’s obvious the Encore 2 offers less for your buck. The biggest drawback is inclusion of only 1GB of RAM memory instead of 2GB or more, which cripples multitasking capability a lot and is hardly acceptable for a Windows PC these days. Furthermore, older Windows / Atom / 2GB tablets mostly do ship with a free copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 (a value of $130), which is not included with the Encore 2. On the 8-inch Windows + Atom tablets RAM is not upgradeable. Additionally, the 32GB models have somewhat limited usability because of low storage space. UPDATE: Although retailers mostly don’t advertise it, the specs sheets of the Encore 2 on Toshiba’s website indicate that it comes with a 1-year subscription for cloud-based Office 365 Personal for free ($70 value).
As a side note, a bit surprising is that there are some quite expensive machines with Bing Windows edition. For instance, a ThinkPad Tablet 10 model selling for 1400 Euros in Finland. It raises a question whether the Bing version is actually aimed only at low-cost devices as Microsoft initially announced.
Regarding Windows 8.1 with Bing itself, it’s worth noting that it’s almost identical to the latest normal Windows 8.1 you can find pre-installed on the vast majority of PCs on the store shelves. The main difference is that manufacturers are obliged to ship Win 8.1 Bing PCs with Microsoft’s Bing set as the default search engine in Internet Explorer. However, users can switch to any other search engine such as Google Search without restrictions any time. In return, PC makers get Windows with Bing at lower prices than normal or in some cases for free, allowing them to offer cheaper devices or simply lower their production costs.