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Microsoft to slash Windows 8 licensing fee for portable devices in bid to woo OEMs

Microsoft is reportedly knocking $20 (£13) off the licensing fee charged to computer manufactures for Windows 8 running on touchscreen notebooks which are 11.6in or less.

Touchscreen notebooks, hybrids, and tablets measuring 10.8in or smaller will get the discount plus a free edition of Microsoft's Office 2013 software suite, DigiTimes reported this week.

Microsoft launched Windows 8 in October 2012, making a big push for touch-enabled PCs running its latest operating system. But there's growing evidence that consumers are balking at the higher prices being charged for touchscreen PCs, which are often at least £150 more expensive than equivalent computers without touchscreens. Retailers, in turn, are starting to flirt with Windows 8 promotions to kick-start sales of particularly slow-moving products.

Citing unnamed supply chain sources, DigiTimes said the licensing break for Microsoft's OEM partners would start in April or May, translating to price breaks for consumers beginning in June.

The Taiwanese tech journal said OEMs are currently paying around $80 or £90 (£50 or £60) for Windows 8 Pro licenses, meaning a $20 discount would be fairly significant.

Despite its flashy debut, Windows 8 failed to boost a moribund PC market as 2012 came to a close, according to analysts.

Worldwide PC shipments during the fourth quarter were down 6.4 per cent from the same time period in 2011, according to IDC. New PCs "continued to take a back seat to competing devices and sustained economic woes," the research firm found.

Furthermore, IDC analyst Jay Chou indicated that Microsoft's focus on the touch-centric aspect of Windows 8 might have actually alienated some shoppers.

"Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013," Chou said.