Cheap Windows 8 PCs

Category: Windows-8

Earlier this year, Microsoft began to offer a variant of Windows 8.1 to PC vendors at a special, super-secret price that is rumored to be “practically zero.” This “Windows 8.1 with Bing" license has brought a crop of low-cost PCs to the market. Here's the scoop, and what you need to know about the Bing thing...

Bing, Yes. Bling, No.

The license for “Windows 8.1 with Bing" specifies that it can be installed only on “low-cost” machines and its default search engine, Bing, cannot be changed prior to sale. This cuts the cost for PC vendors by $50-$80, so many are responding with a number of Windows 8.1 devices whose prices may look unbelievable. Here are a few of these low-cost machines:

Toshiba’s $120 Encore Mini tablet is about as “basic” as a Windows 8.1 device gets. Its 7-inch, 1024x600 display covers a 1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3735G processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. It comes with a micro-USB 2.0 port, a 0.3MP front-facing camera, a 2.0MP rear-facing camera, a microSD card slot, and a battery rated for 7.3 hours. It won’t win any prizes for speed, but it’s adequate for Web surfing, social media, and many apps. Bundled apps include a year’s worth of Office 365 Personal, Amazon Kindle for PC, and Netflix.

Cheap Windows 8 PCs

Acer has announced the Iconia Tab 8 W tablet which starts at just $150, less than half the base price of its predecessor, the Iconia W3. The Tab 8 W includes an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core Bay Trail processor, 1GB of RAM, and an 8-inch, 1,280x800 display. It includes a year’s subscription to Office 365 Personal. The Intel® AtomTM Z3735G quad-core processor “responds promptly,” the press release says. When “promptly” is the best a PR agent can do, my guess is there's some concern about performance. Dual cameras and a microUSB port are included. An optional keyboard is available to make it more laptoppy. The Tab 8 W will be in stores by November.

But I Want a Real Laptop...

If you're not comfortable with a tablet, no problem. Good old clamshell laptops are also getting the Windows 8.1 with Bing treatment. Microsoft is taking aim at Google Chromebooks with these “neo-netbooks,” as the stripped-down, very affordable products are already being called.

Asus pioneered the netbook, and now they're resurrecting it with the tiny EeeBook X205 notebook, priced at $199. The X205 has an Intel Atom Z3735 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash storage. The 11.6-inch display has a 1,366x768-pixel display. Connections include 802.11n WiFi, a micro-HDMI port, a microSD slot and two USB 2.0 ports. The X205 is slated to be available in early Q4.

Let me clarify one point about Microsoft's "Windows 8.1 with Bing" offering. It's the same Windows 8.1 that you'd get with any other computer, not a stripped down version. And it's the *vendor* who can't change the default search engine from Bing to something else. The customer, however, may do so. It's just a marketing play by Microsoft to gently herd users into the BIng fold, and away from Google.

The HP Pavilion 10Z ($250) is one of few Windows 8.1 with Bing laptops that features a touchscreen. It’s powered by the low-cost AMD Mullins processor which is designed for power-saving mobile devices. The 10Z includes 2GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, and the 1,366x768 10.1-inch touchscreen.

The Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 and the Satellite CL10-B will be available "globally" during the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the company. Both come with 11.6 inch HD display at 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, one HDMI port, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 and an SD card reader, 802.1 b/g/n WiFi adapter, and Bluetooth 4.0. Stereo speakers and HD webcam with built-in microphone are in there, too.

The Satellite Radius 11 comes with either an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB hard drive. Its flexible display can be twisted into five different positions. It will debut about $539. The Satellite CL10-B is based on an Intel Celeron processor with 3 GB of RAM and only 32 GB of internal storage. However, it includes 100 GB of OneDrive cloud storage space as well as a year’s worth of Office 365 Personal. It will launch at about $325.

The skimpy storage options on some of these tablets and laptops is possible due to a specification called WIMBoot in the "Windows 8.1 with Bing" package. WIMBoot allows Windows to run directly from the compressed image file previously used for System Restore image files. This shrinks the space required for the operating system files by about 30 GB, but slows things down a bit.

Whether low-cost, low-performance Windows 8.1 with Bing machines can compete with Android tablets and Chromebooks remains to be seen. But if Microsoft goes after Google’s low-end market, prices will remain low.

Will you buy a low-cost Windows 8.1 PC this fall? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Cheap Windows 8 PCs"

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
22 Sep 2014

When presenting computers (tablets, laptops,etc.) what about letting the reader know whether it is possible to install Linuw on the machines you review ?

Posted by:

Tina Davis
22 Sep 2014

I returned a brand new Toshiba 17" laptop recently because of Windows 8. It is not user friendly to seniors that have invested in laptops and need an upgrade. I have worked with Microsoft for many years and have never experienced such a lousy program that's necessary to operate a computer. I will remain with my existing Windows 7 until Microsoft creates a new user friendly program. Have pity on some of the seniors that don't work with apps.

Posted by:

Frank Starr
22 Sep 2014

A touch screen operating system just doesn't appeal to me. If I want a smart phone, I'll buy a smart phone.
I use Linux Mint on my laptop 99% of the time, although I have it dual booting with Windows 7 also installed (it had Windows 8 when I bought it, but I "upgraded" to Windows 7 :) ).
Since Windows 9 looks to be an "improvement" on Windows 8, I may never go back to Windows. Windows lately reminds me of a Nokia "smart" phone: tolerable if you have to have it, but nothing I'd willingly choose.

Posted by:

Lloyd Collins
23 Sep 2014

If they offer it with Windows XP, and bring back support for XP, then sure, why not.

Posted by:

23 Sep 2014

Windows once sold at a premium price, and Microsoft hoped to keep that game going forever. But newer, more attractive hardware alternatives are stealing Windows users right and left, and Microsoft must watch helplessly as its empire falls apart.

Soon Microsoft may be forced to price Windows to compete with Google. That price drop may affect desktop versions of Windows, as well. So, for desktop users, the real question becomes, "How much extra should be paid to have 'Genuine Windows'?"

Posted by:

Gary Zupan
23 Sep 2014

I bought a Toshiba Satellite C55-B5201 laptop for $230. All plastic, tiny speakers, DVD burner, 2xUSB2.0, 1xUSB3.0, 15.6" 1366x768 screen, 4GB RAM, SD card reader. The Celeron N2830 does everything for me, especially software development. I use Windows 8 with a touchpad instead of cleaning a touchscreen. I immediately installed dual boot Ubuntu and use Ubuntu mostly. I love using both Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.04; to switch I change one setting in UEFI during boot. Bob Rankin, you have the best topics and best advice.

Posted by:

Daniel B. Martin
23 Sep 2014

Your article cites mini-tablets, tablets, and laptops. I prefer a desktop machine. As a Linux user, I don't care what version of Windows comes factory-installed. All I need is a way to install Ubuntu and never look back.

Consequently, the idea of a zero-cost Windows is appealing. How may the desktop buyer benefit from this deal?!?

Posted by:

Dorothy Wright
24 Sep 2014

love reading your articles and wonder if you can tell me why my HP Envy with Windows 8 cannot be upgraded to 8.1 version. I have tried four different times and every time I am informed it is not possible to upgrade my computer to 8.1. I have downloaded the whole thing each time and then I am told it is impossible to implement it. It is strange that no one else mentions this happening to them. Did I make a mistake buying a computer with Windows 8?

Posted by:

14 Oct 2014

Stay with Windows 7 !!! Enough is enough !!!

Posted by:

15 Aug 2016

Hi!, first time here. I've loved the WIMBoot explanation. So far, nice website you have Bob! :)

Talking about those “low-cost” laptop/tablets machines (with “Windows 8.1 with Bing”), the problem is that most come with a rare and very uncommon 32-Bit UEFI. The solution (after spending more than one week looking for information), is using "MistyPE" (from, that supports 32-Bit UEFI booting. Imagine you can't boot Windows anymore, and you can't restore your system in anyway, then you will need to boot from USB to recover from a backup image (that needs to be previously done, for example, using the free Macrium Reflect), and that's when "MistyPE" will come you handy.

@LeoNeeson (Twitter)

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Cheap Windows 8 PCs (Posted: 22 Sep 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved