Microsoft's assault on Android begins with sub-$150 Windows tablets

bing lead image

Toshiba’s Encore Mini.

Credit: Toshiba

Cost is no longer an issue when it comes to Windows tablets. Windows 8.1 with Bing is about to try and slaughter Android’s holiday tablet sales.

What’s one thing thus far that has prevented you from exploring the Windows’ tablet ecosystem? If you say cash, I’ve got some news.

Toshiba and Acer are both launching sub-$150 tablets running Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 with Bing, according to reports coming out of the IFA consumer products trade show being held now in Berlin.

Acer’s eight-inch tablet will reportedly come in at $150 in the U.S., whereas Toshiba’s will cost $119 MSRP.

Other devices running the cheapo Bing version of Windows are already in play, by the way.

Toshiba’s Encore Mini

Toshiba’s product is a seven-incher with the 8.1 OS, a year’s free subscription to Office 365 Personal, and a terabyte of OneDrive storage. OneDrive used to be called SkyDrive.

The textured back panel will be in white and the device will weigh 12.5 ounces with a 0.43-inch profile. Display resolution will be 1024x600 and the machine will be driven by a quad-core Intel Atom processor.

Two cameras are on board and there’s 16 GB of storage. A microSD slot is included. Toshiba says the product is available to ship on September 17.

Acer’s Tab 8 W

Acer’s eight-incher, according to Jamie Rigg at Engadget, will feature eight hours of juice and also a free year of Office 365.

Rigg says the $150 device will be available State-side in November. Pricing is the same as Acer’s eight-inch Android device, the Iconia One Tab 8.

So what exactly is Windows 8.1 with Bing?

Essentially, it’s the same as common Windows 8.1, but it has Bing as the out-of-the-box default search engine within Internet Explorer. Thanks mainly to European regulators, search engine settings are customizable by the consumer, so you can change that.

The OS is a discounted OEM-only product aimed at lower-cost devices and is the same as regular Windows 8.1, with the exception of the default search product.

The lower price for device makers is offset by the Microsoft-branded search. It’s royalty-free for sub-nine-inch screen products.

Microsoft announced in May that Windows would be available at no charge to hardware partners for Windows Phone devices smaller than nine inches.

In that same announcement, Microsoft said that some of the devices, in particular tablets, will also come with Office or a one-year subscription to Office 365. So that likely factored into the product monetization concepts, as did cloud storage upselling.

Other product carrying 8.1 with Bing

If you want to play with Windows 8.1 in a non-tablet environment, there are options too:

Other Windows 8.1 with Bing products include sub-$250 laptops from Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, that are aimed at beating-out Google’s free Chrome OS-based Chromebooks.

Zotac has announced Celeron-driven, dual-core, mini PCs pre-installed with Windows’ 8.1 Bing version. Zotac has historically sold PCs without an operating system.

Heading?

Who’d have thought we’d be running Windows on our cheap tablets next year? I certainly hadn’t planned on that. Now let’s see how it actually runs compared to Android and iOS.

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