It seems that Microsoft really wants to make Windows 8.1 a popular operating system, and the company is desperate to do this. To increase the number of users using Windows 8.1, Microsoft is reportedly planning to give it away for free or sell it at a very low cost, according to the report received by The Verge.

Microsoft Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 with Bing

As per the blog, Microsoft will be offering Windows 8.1 with Bing for free, or as a low cost version for Windows 7 users. This Windows 8.1 with Bing might also be offered to PC makers for devices under $250.

From what it looks like, in the future, Microsoft will be monetizing Bing as a platform. The Redmond company is also considering low-cost or free versions of Windows Phone OS.

If the company slashes the price tag of Windows or Windows Phone, or even makes it free, then Microsoft might be considering how to earn that income elsewhere, for example, from its cloud services and apps. Indeed it would be interesting to learn how Microsoft is planning to do this.

Will Microsoft also offer its services and apps for free, along with the OS?

If Microsoft really axes the licensing fees for Windows devices, then it would be a hard decision for the company as it currently bundles a range of services with Windows, such as OneDrive, Bing services, Xbox music steaming and the Office apps (for RT users). Will Microsoft start charging separately for these services and apps, or will it just let go the profit?

The Redmond company is also thinking to merge its Windows RT and Windows Phone software into a single version, for its ARM-based chipsets. Microsoft also recently unveiled its Windows 8.1 spring update, and more details are expected to be announced at the Build developer conference in April.