Bing is required as the default search engine within Internet Explorer [from the factory]

It looks like the earlier reports were [partially] true: Microsoft has announced a new low-cost version of Windows 8.1 that will be pre-loaded on new computers. The newest SKU is simply called “Windows 8.1 with Bing” and according to Microsoft will allow its hardware partners to “build lower cost Windows devices.”
When first heard rumblings of this Bing-ified version of Windows 8.1 back in late February, it was suggested that it would be made available for free. However, nothing in Microsoft’s announcement today mentions anything about the new SKU being free to OEMs.

According to Microsoft, Windows 8.1 with Bing will look and perform exactly the same as all other versions of Windows 8.1 with Update 1. However, Bing will be mandatory as the default search engine in Internet Explorer (it is our understanding that OEMs can set their own default IE search engine from the factory, but this obviously won’t be the case with a subsidized version of Windows 8.1). Customers, however, will have the ability to change their default search engine if they wish (most probably won’t, which Microsoft is banking on).

Microsoft explains the reasoning behind providing OEMs with this new SKU:
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. Additionally, as reach expands, the opportunity for developers and their apps also increases.
So in the end, Windows 8.1 with Bing is all about making Windows devices cheaper for customers.  It’s hard to argue with that reasoning.

Source: Microsoft

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