Hardware manufacturers won’t have to pass the cost on to consumers.
Microsoft has made its latest update to Windows 8.1 free for hardware manufacturers in a bid to offer cheaper devices to customers.
The Redmond-based tech giant hopes its free offer of Windows 8.1 with Bing will lead to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offering tablets and laptops for lower prices.
Spokesman Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post: "This new edition will be only be available preloaded on devices from our hardware partners. Some of these devices, in particular tablets, will also come with Office or a one year subscription to Office 365.
"The end result is that more people – across consumer and commercial – will have access to an even broader selection of new devices with all the awesomeness that Windows 8.1 provides, and get Office too, all at a really affordable price."
Bing will come as the default search engine, but LeBlanc confirmed that customers would be able to change that in the settings.
Hardware partners will be able to use the free OS to build cheap tablets with 16GB storage and 1GB of memory, and the move comes after Google announced a similar deal for Google Chrome on Chromebooks.
The news also follows Microsoft’s announcement that it is making the Windows Phone operating system free for hardware partners producing phones and tablets smaller than 9" in size.