Likewise, a flood of inexpensive PCs running the free or nearly-free Windows 8.1 with Bing would affect Microsoft's ability to sell Windows licenses to OEMs for any consumer machine and perhaps quash plans to charge for a Windows 10 upgrade. After all, who would pay historic prices -- around $100 -- to upgrade from Windows 7 when a new machine can be had for just twice that?
Not all Windows PCs are racing toward the bottom of the price barrel, Baker pointed out. "There is still plenty of stuff going on in the corporate markets that deliver much higher ASPs," he said.
But on the consumer side, the plummeting prices of PCs -- which Microsoft is driving -- becomes yet another example of the company's radical new strategy of eschewing revenue there in the hope it translates into larger volume and more users who, perhaps in their workplace, can be forced to pay. Last week's shifting of the boundary between free and paid usage of Office on the iPad was a similar indicator.
"The implications and challenges around a new level of Windows notebook pricing will reverberate around the industry," Baker said.
And that industry includes Microsoft.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.