As with Windows 8, so it will be with Windows 10, at least when it comes to builds of Microsoft’s operating system that lean on Bing to monetize. Bing is best known as Microsoft’s search engine, but it is also the company’s larger search layer that it applies against its own applications.
A leaked Intel slide purporting to show a product roadmap includes a mention of “Win 10 W/Bing.” Unless the company is deliberately trying to be irksome, that’s a decent confirmation that the “with Bing” program will persist. I’ve asked Microsoft for comment on the matter, and have pinged Intel concerning the veracity of the slides in question. (Update: Both companies did the written equivalent of shaking their heads quietly, while looking out a rainy window.)
Windows 8.1 with Bing, confirmed last March, costs either very little or nothing to PC manufacturers. The code is designed for smaller tablets and devices that sell at lower price points. Why sell Windows for free? If Microsoft applied the regular cost of Windows to small computers, they would be completely uncompetitive in the market.
So if Microsoft wants market share among smaller form-factor hardware, it had to release something else, e.g. a Windows build aimed to monetize using services instead of up-front fees. I don’t think that many saw Windows 8.1 with Bing as a full preamble of Microsoft’s Windows 10 strategy, but here we are.
Microsoft plans to offer free upgrades to Windows 10 to many current Windows users. Given that, why continue the “with Bing” plan? The free upgrades to Windows 10 will cease after a certain Window, and Microsoft will want to still offer a cheap way for new users to pick up Windows 10. In that context, the “with Bing” build seems reasonable.