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Microsoft Planning To Create ‘Bingbook’ Rival to Chrome OS?

Windows 8 with Bing

Image Credit: Neowin

Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with a free version of Windows 8.1 called ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’.

The fee-less version of the OS will come bundled with key Microsoft apps and Bing services and will be offered as a ‘free or low cost upgrade’ to existing Windows 7 users, say sources familiar with the plans in conversation with The Verge.

But might the software giant go one step further and offer the Bing-based Windows build to PC makers for free?

According to those very same sources, yes. 

Microsoft currently charge laptop and PC makers a licensing fee to ship Windows 8 on their devices. While this makes them money, it also creates a barrier to entry; using Windows is a less attractive proposition on low-end devices than something like Google’s Chrome OS, which is free for OEMs to use.

Google do not directly earn money from sales of devices loaded with Chrome OS.

A free Bing-loaded version of Windows would do two key things for Microsoft: a) it would help the software giant boost the stagnant share of its latest release, and b) help tie users into the Bing ecosystem (e.g., mail, maps, news, etc.) — a source of revenue.

‘Could a Bingbook rival Google’s Chromebook?’

Microsoft recently reduced licensing costs of Windows 8.1 for OEMs making devices retailing at less than $250 — a move many have attributed as a direct response to the explosion in popularity of Chromebooks.

Bingbooks On The Way?

So could a “Bingbook” work? Would it be a rival to Google’s Chromebooks?

The independent Microsoft news site Neowin recently posted screenshots purporting to be from an early build of the OS but, thus far, it bears little difference to the regular version of the OS. Given that Microsoft is said to be keen to retain the ‘paid for’ version of Windows 8.1, any ‘free’ version would need to slice off functionality or limit features involved to shore up a tiered model.

But limiting functionality would come at a cost: user confusion. People may buy a so-called Bingbook expecting a traditional Windows experience only to encounter limited functionality (a situation Windows RT underlines). 

‘Microsoft is the company that also rubbished the iPhone and the iPad, before belatedly following suit…’

As the world’s most used browser and search engine the names ‘Chrome’ and ‘Google’ are brands that carry weight, and the ‘differentiator’ of Chrome OS versus a traditional laptop is more apparent.

It’s not yet clear whether so-called ‘Bingbooks’ will happen; sources have stressed that it’s a model the company are simply experimenting with. 

It would be a strange turn-around given the amount of heat the company has extolled on the ‘always on’ Chromebooks of late.  But then Microsoft is the company that also rubbished the iPhone and the iPad, before belatedly following suit years later.

Windows 8.1 with Bing could be the first step in admitting they’re wrong. 

  • Stijn Berendsen

    Wouldn’t work, the services from Microsoft aren’t as advanced as the services from Google

    • Microsoft’s services are okay. Not amazing, but with some work, they’d be good.

      I use Bing on everything but my Chromebook. I then use the reward points for Amazon Gift Cards. Bing is okay for basic searching, and has gotten a lot better recently. But if you need to do research, or if you need to search for anything esoteric, Google is by far the best.

      I think Outlook compares favorably to Gmail, and I may like it better, but I primarily use GMail because I’ve been using it for years without any problems or complaints.

      I trust Google Drive more than OneDrive, but I never had any problems during the brief time I used OneDrive (SkyDrive at the time).

      • Efjay

        Although I don’t run their OSs I have got a OneDrive account and it’s not bad, no offline support so it’s limited for my uses but I have made a set of Chrome web apps to access each of the Office apps. To it’s credit I like the UX and design, it feels like an app, unlike a lot of Google ‘apps’ that feel like web pages or variations of the dull Gmail interface.

  • Curtis Mitchell

    Assuming they retain Metro, I could see the free version being driven by ads that would get served up to your desktop with a paid tier that would eliminate said ads. Or at least, I hope the paid tier would eliminate the ads….I still get an awful lot of ads thrown at me on my Xbox with a paid subscription.

    • Efjay

      Ads? They can shove it if they do that! Christ, when are these businesses going to learn people are over-saturated and increasingly weary of ads.

      Ads on a desktop, regardless of business model, is and always will be completely and utterly unacceptable.

      • David

        I absolutely agree. Sure, ads would probably offset the cost of developing a free version of Windows, but for a company as big as Microsoft, who has been a key player in setting the standards for computing, it’d be a very poor choice. If MS plans to make “Bingbooks”, they can stick to ads in the browser, like everyone else, if they MUST offset the costs of development (which as a multi-billion dollar company is not necessary).

  • Efjay

    Flippin ‘eck! Chrome and Chrome OS must be seriously rattling Microsoft, having said that my laptop came with Win7, never used it, just installed Linux on it. But a free Win8.1 I’d have a play with – safely caged in a VM of course!

    • If you lost 18% of sales in a specific market (US education) in one year to another OS (Chrome) that gained 18.5%, you’d be pretty concerned. Plus, the city of Boston switched to Google Apps instead of Office. Other smaller businesses are deploying some Chromebooks, and some consumers. A lot of businesses, probably more than we think, are looking at Chrome and starting to think about it. More than that, they’re starting to wonder about Google Apps.

      • Efjay

        I’m getting a Chromebook myself and use Google apps, only as a second machine, I still need a main machine for the stuff I do. Chrome OS is very compelling, I just wish Google would add an official compatibility layer for installing full offline Linux apps or some project would port the main Linux apps to NaCl or something, maybe they should bundle in a VM. Although the Google Apps are fine, I find the Chrome web store quite lacking, too many things dependent on a live net connection, too many diagram apps and way too many to do list apps.

        • I love my Chromebook and it fulfills over 90% of my usage needs, affordably and securely and reliably. I have a Mac Mini that covers the rest, from family photos to the final production stages on my books when I need Office and Photoshop. I Remote Desktop for some of the smaller power tasks. Chromebooks are a great compliment to desktops.

          • Efjay

            That’s exactly the route I’m going down. Replacing my laptop with a desktop workstation for graphics, modelling, rendering, audio and video media creation and programming. A Raspberry Pi OwnCloud server for the terabytes of stuff I’ve got. Then a Chromebook for my surfing etc.

          • I replaced an aging MacBook that I was doing all my writing on with the Chromebook and I’m happy with it. I have an iPas for Internet and fun but I’m using it a lot less now.

          • Efjay

            What kind of things are you writing and what are you using? I had been doing Script Frenzy until they shut it down and used Celtx, gonna do Camp NaNoWriMo in future and Celtx’s cloud based software works well in Chrome OS (as well as tablet/desktop offline). My wife is wanting to do some writing but will probably use Google Docs unless we find something better, she’ll be getting a Chromebook soon (as a main computer).

        • jsebean

          You can use crouton to run linux apps, too bad it didn’t integrate with aura interface though.

    • Adrian Meredith

      I wish my new laptop had windows 7… 8 is a constant source of frustration

      • Efjay

        I had the first version of windows, with its MSDOS Executive, but I never bothered again. Never saw the appeal. Went from OS2 to Linux. I’ve played with the odd version in a VM but that’s about it.

  • Microsoft had the answer to Chromebooks in WindowsRT but few laptops ever came with it, and they went away fast. If they’d ditched the desktop mode entirely and had Office completely Metro, and if they had branded it so that it was clear it was like Windows but wasn’t Windows, it might could have caught on. Microsoft Modern OS, or the OfficeBook, or something like that. I’ve used the Surface 2 tablet some, and it’s a nice setup in many ways, though clumsier than it should be and still crippled with buggy Windows updates. With refinement, branding, and low costs for OEM’s, they could have had something with RT. But Microsoft isn’t cut out for that sort of thing. Everything must be Windows all the time for better and, more often, for worse.

    Google and Apple are successful with products that people find pleasure in using. The companies are built to make money in entirely different ways, and they both succeed. Because they have vision and commitment to their philosophy. I’m not even sure what the Microsoft philosophy is beyond Windows everywhere.

    • Roland

      I think it’s Windows & Office everywhere along with buy a subscription to Office 365 and get an extra 20GB of OneDrive space for the life of your Subscription, with a pinch of p

  • Boothy

    Have to retune the “chomebooks are rubbish” ads then.
    “But you can’t install Photoshop on a Bingbook”……

  • Carl Draper

    Bahahahaha! A laptop that only runs IE and Bing – that’d be hilarious!
    And very hytpocritical considering the recent pawn shop Scroogled

    • Zactu

      Yea. But most people don’t care or know don’t understand, and will buy anything with Microsoft on it. Most people are locked into Microsoft software anyway. Microsoft is so huge that it can take a loss on products for a long time as way to block competitors. And Microsoft is very able to make Bingbook if they want, and people will buy it. Microsoft can make deals with OEM’s, and retailers will support it much more than they would Chromebooks. I hope that’s not the case as consumers would lose out.

      • Carl Draper

        Who are these “most people” you are on about, the most people I know use Google, no one says “let me just Bing that” they Google it.

        • Zactu

          ‘Most’ are the people who are searching using Google on their Microsoft Windows PC’s.

          • Joseph Dickson

            and Gmail instead of Outlook :P

      • Wyllie Young Wylls Chilunga

        And Microsoft is very able to make Bingbook if they want, “and people will buy it.” wonder why that doesnt apply with windows8/windows phone 8/Surface

      • Lionel Archer

        Yeah! but still Google Mobile OS is the most used on Smartphone…Why Windows Mobile OS seems not to be supported by retailers?

  • rafael

    Remember the browser ballot for win7 in europe?

    There will be one like this: Either use bingOS without apps, with HTML, or Ubuntu, with apps, with HTML.

  • Roland

    Microsoft would have to seriously update OneDrive to be as good as Google Drive and make the free Office Web Apps worth using, While the Office web apps insist on converting to PDF before being printed (at a somewhat greatly reduced quality). Microsoft would also have to offer bigger OneDrive than the current free 7GB, After buying a Bingbook for somewhere around the $250 or £149 mark then being forced to take out an Office 365 Subscription for $13 or £7.99 per month to get OneDrive access with bonus of a measly extra 20GB of storage as long as you stay a subscriber of Office 365.

    For an extra £2.98 or $4.99 a month I can get 100GB of Google Drive storage once my free 100GB of Google Drive storage for 2 years has expired.

    Why would anyone want to buy a Bingbook and then be forced to payout for a Subscription to Office 365 just to do what you can on a Chromebook for free once you’ve purchased the Chromebook.

  • Yvan Philogène

    I would pay for a simplified version of Windows, focused on rich internet/desktop app technology, like Chrome OS… What? Windows RT?

    Microsoft can turn their business model the way they want, it won’t make any difference. Chrome OS offers an easier and cheaper alternative to Windows, so the only way is to offer more value for the same amount of money.

    Make Windows simple and free and consumers won’t buy chromebooks anymore.

    • Roland

      After the mess of Windows 8 and the Scroogled campaign I’ll never switch to anything that only runs Internet Explorer. Chrome OS does everything that I did on my Windows laptop everyday and faster and more efficiently than on Windows.

      Bring back an updated and free version of Windows 3.1/3.11 that’s 64bit capable ans well as 32bit and I think people would buy Windows again. I first used Windows 3.11 back in ’95 at Collage and it was my first time using it and it was the easiest to use version of Windows ever.

      • Efjay

        I think you’ll find progman.exe, the old Program Manager was in Windows until -fairly- recently, maybe even XP.

        • Roland

          It was in XP, but it wasn’t as good as the Windows 3.1 Program Manager. I think it was still around in Vista & 7 but when double clicking on the progman.exe it did nothing.

    • Joseph Dickson

      If both were successful the key to ‘winning’ the market is their relationships with Dell, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba etc.

  • Marnie van der Wel

    If Microsoft were to bring on the market a totally new OS that has a similar philosophy than Chrome OS and if they don’t call it Windows then it may take off. But if they just offer a stripped down version of Windows then it’s not going to work because people will get less without getting something in return (ease of use, security, hassle free operation, etc.).

    • Roland

      Microsoft really need to build a new browser that’s lightweight similar to Chrome, call it Bing Browser. Then build the OS on that and call it Bing OS and totally ditch the Modern UI then people would be willing to give it a try, but they’d have to make it free for everyone not just OEM’s.

      Google’s got the right idea with Chrome OS take the Linux Kernel and integrate it with Chrome and add a proper Desktop and task bar & app launcher. Just taking Windows & stripping it down and calling it Windows 8.1 with Bing isn’t going to work.

      • Wyllie Young Wylls Chilunga

        microsoft should fail and leave ubuntu and mac osx to compete for world wide domination

        • Roland

          If Microsoft do bring out a Bingbook it’ll more than likely fail. Everyone’s p**sed off with Windows 8/8.1, so what makes Microsoft think that a Windows 8 light with Bing succeed, as Microsoft will want to claw back some of the lost revenue from Windows 8 & the failed Windows 8 RT so Bingbooks will not be priced to compete with Chromebooks as they’ll more or less be Windows 8 for 2001 hardware.

      • Nic

        Agree… but “Bing….” anything sounds stupid…

    • Marshall Staxx

      Agreed. A thin OS that doesn’t carry Windows brand baggage with it could work.

      The irony is that they were pretty well-positioned to do that several years ago with netbooks, but instead of embracing the product model, they treated it like a stepchild and arbitrarily limited what it could do. You can upsell without implying your less expensive product is trash. iPads didn’t kill netbooks, Microsoft did.


    If Microsoft came out with a light OS similar to Chrome OS, that just ran web apps and extensions, they would shot themselves in the foot. These apps/extensions can run on Chrome OS and boost the popularity of Chrome OS. The Chrome Web Store would grow rapidly and attract more folks to Chrome OS IMHO.

    • JPB

      That’s why I think this is perhaps, instead, an portable XBox variant instead. See above.

  • Jesus Osvaldo Broch

    I really hope, microsoft fails at some point of the future in the desktop to give a chance to a wider range of (free) choices

    • Zactu

      I agree. They want everyone to continue to be locked into Microsoft products and services for life. Yep, this is a response to Chromebooks. And you can be sure, that if not ready, Microsoft will have deals with OEM’s and retailers to block, or at least limit its exposure, to any competitors products from being made and appearing on store shelves in prominent positions. Consumers lose out in the end.

    • Ryan Karolak

      I don’t see Microsoft failing majority, if only due to their momentum and pervasiveness in business. I think it’s quite possible though that we’ll see Windows become less prominent with platforms like Chrome OS, Android, and others becoming more prominent.

    • Joseph Dickson

      Same here but their failure would just push enterprise more towards Apple. At least that’s likely what would happen in the US. There is simply too much Adobe software used in the Enterprise that people expect to have access too.

      However, if one day Adobe supports Ubuntu and Chrome that will end Microsoft on the Enterprise.

      • Tobias Müller

        I’m afraid it wouldn’t… I use ubuntu everyday at home… it could do everything I would need at work… but they are still using win xp and are just about to switch to win7… They wouldn’t even think about using linux although the IT is complaining about the costs for software licences (about 3.000€/Computer) and tries to convince people to share computers (which is a good idea but doesn’t work most of the time).

  • Matthew Wright

    Sounds like they’re trying to recreate the widespread successes of Windows 7 Starter Edition and Windows RT. Oh, wait.

    • Roland

      I used Windows Vista x64 Starter as a trial to see if my old Advent Netbook could support Windows Vista and it was really limited as you could only use 10 programs at once.
      WIndows RT is basically an ARM based version of Windows Starter edition, and I can see any Windows 8.1 With Bing just being a limited version of Windows 8.1 by another name instead of calling it Windows 8.1 Starter Edition (Bingbooks = Windows Starter Edition and they’ll probably limit it to only approved apps through the Windows Store to block the use of Chrome e.t.c) Microsoft are probably running scared now that Chrome can run in Chrome OS mode in Windows 8 full screen app mode.

      • GuestofTheGuestopiaSector

        Yes sure running scared from a laptop that cannot do anything but browse the web…. and some various crap.

        • Bridger Reif Hammond

          Someone has never used a Chromebook…

        • Alucard291

          So I guess what you’re saying is – MS is overreacting like complete morons when faced with ANY competition even from as you called it “a laptop that cannot do anything”.

          I mean attack adds? How mature…

  • LOL

  • Ariana

    So much for their “scroogled” campaign…

  • JPB

    OK, first off, I’m a huge Chromebook fan. Love it and own one. But, I think people might be missing something here. What if….this isn’t a Windows variant but more of an XBox variant? That is, recast the XBox experience into a takeaway book form, include a wifi controller. To me, this could be much more interesting than a tired Windows-based browser book and potentially more lucrative for MS ,especially if they offer it with a lower subscription rate than the typical Gold one.

    • Bridger Reif Hammond

      Have fun building a small laptop that can compete with a Chromebook AND a gaming console.
      We honestly don’t have the tech to do that yet. AMD is close but not there yet with their APUs.

  • sggodsell

    I see one problem with this currently. First of all Microsoft’s browser is the least compliant html5 browser on the market. Not to mention even with the latest version of IE11, you still can’t install web apps and they still don’t have offline support for apps. Anyone wanting to test or look at compatibility of the browsers, then take a look at

  • dvr

    Well I commend Microsoft for realizing the power and strength in this approach, my next comment is good luck, your BINGing a knife to a GUN FIGHT…

  • Mike

    windows with bing is still windows. no way in the world i want a bloated mess like this on my laptop / chromebook / bingbook . ooo the viruses and spyware yikes

    • netsurfer912

      all on internet explorer … yay

      • Lionel Archer

        Yeah! faster than ever…For Me now no browser can compete…

    • DudelottaDude

      Oh idiot new gens not knowing how to avoid viruses while claiming to know about tech ohh…

  • Wyllie Young Wylls Chilunga

    i wonder why google is taking long to make there own desktop linux os to compete with windows entirely! :D it would be googles response to windows in general :D

    • sfrued

      you have no idea what they’re up to……

      • Tobias Müller

        I guess it would be quit easy for them if they would want to… we already have pretty good desktop environements and hardware support isn’t such a big barrier anymore… they would pretty much just have to ship a softwarecenter and a few core-apps… many of their employers already use a version of ubuntu… however for desktop use they would need better apps than the ones that are on android… I can barely stand using in-app-pay/add apps on my mobile I sure wouldn’t use them on my desktop (I wouldn’t use a google desktop os anyway)…

        • Wyllie Young Wylls Chilunga

          i doubt Google would ever use any of the available Desktop environments and how distros work, a Google os for your computer would definitely not be your average day to day distro

          • Maokei Johansson

            Google is all about the web they don’t really care about the desktop.

    • Neel Gupta

      Valve is already doing that with SteamOS. Google should team up with Valve.

      • Wyllie Young Wylls Chilunga

        no valve is doing game consoles and thats not what am talking about here, i think google should team up with canonical and make unity more awesome and complete then call in valve to join for the games :D

        • Bridger Reif Hammond

          Valve is in not making gaming consoles. They made, and are still developing, a Linux based OS to use on desktop boxes that are small. They are NOT consoles, they are PCs that run SteamOS.

          And for the love of god do not team up with Canonical. Go with Redhat.

          • Wyllie Young Wylls Chilunga

            why not canonical? Redhat has manpower but no vision

    • Joseph Dickson

      Chrome is pretty much designed to increase our consumption of Google products while weening us off of a traditional desktop experience. I seriously doubt they’ll ever create do a full desktop OS it would actually hinder their business model.

  • Joseph Dickson

    I can see the popup alerts now. “Sorry you can’t do that with this version of Windows!”

    • Topias Olavi Salakka

      Someone’s going to crack this open eventually (read: in 3 days or less) allowing anyone to run anything

      • netsurfer912

        Like Chrome … lol

  • e550mercedes

    As far as Microsoft limiting any functionality in a free version of Windows 8.1 goes it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Chrome OS is so limited, when compared to a full-blown desktop like Ubuntu, that it isn’t even funny! Chrome OS, to me anyway, is nothing more than an over grown browser and it is just as limited in what it can do. Don’t expect PhotoShop on such a limited OS, or Office like apps, because Chrome OS like OSs simply doesn’t have the mustard to do much of anything but run the web and simple web apps. High-end games….. forget it.

  • Hadrian Embalsado

    Isn’t this OMG Chrome?

    • Dan Wright

      Are you genuinely saying that you can’t see the link between Microsoft’s web-centric OS efforts and Google’s web-centric OS efforts?

      • Hadrian Embalsado

        I know that. Everybody’s moving to the internet. More mobile, more cloud based.

  • LastNameForLastGame

    I am sick of how ignorant MOST of the new gen is let me just give you 5 reasons.

    #1 Most of them will click on anything.I mean anything!

    #2 Their grammar is so terrible it makes me shudder.
    #3 Most of them are hateful, just plain hateful or so full of themselves.
    #4 You see a download somewhere then someone types in the comments it tested safe on (lists multiple Antiviruses and it is usually one of them)
    #5 They want everything free and don’t care who it hurts..

    I am done go on about your lives.

  • DrMcLaser

    I guess it could just be computers with chromebook-like-specs and running Windows RT? Of course they’re not gonne throw a fullscreen IE in your face, and call it a day.

    Windows RT, has apps, games and a full version of office. To me that sounds like a brilliant offer for schools, if they can keep the prices down to around where chromebooks are.

    Although I much rather see schools buy small laptops with Ubuntu.

  • Daviljoe193

    I’m pretty certain that this is going to be like the Windows Starter Editions, super uncustomizable and limited to three apps at a time. (I want it to be like that so Microsoft can just die already.)