surface pro 2

In an effort to stave off competition from Apple, Google and others, Microsoft is said to be cutting the cost of Windows 8.1 by as much as 70%. Now it sounds like this is for manufacturers only, who pre-install Windows on their devices, but it should still eventually turn into savings for consumers.

You see, Microsoft is hoping that by cutting the cost for manufacturers to install Windows on products less than $250, it’ll entice PC makers to create and sell more cheaper models. It’s also cutting the requirement for <$250 devices to complete logo certification in an effort to speed up their releases…

Bloomberg’s Tim Culpan and Dina Bass have more:

“Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is cutting the price of Windows 8.1 by 70 percent for makers of low-cost computers and tablets as they try to fend off cheaper rivals likeGoogle Inc. (GOOG)’s Chromebooks, people familiar with the program said.

Manufacturers will be charged $15 to license Windows 8.1 and preinstall it on devices that retail for less than $250, instead of the usual fee of $50, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public. The discount will apply to any products that meet the price limit, with no restrictions on the size or type of device, the people said.”

Microsoft is in a difficult spot right now. The company said earlier this month that it has sold just over 200 million licenses of Windows 8 since the program went on sale in October 2012, a slower rate of adoption than the previous Windows 7, and it continues to struggle in the mobile device space.

It’ll be interesting to see if this new tactic helps Microsoft increase its share of the tablet/budget notebook space that is being dominated right now by Google’s Chromebooks and Android devices, and Apple’s iPads. A $15 fee isn’t too far from free— a move that has played a big role in Android’s success.