Microsoft's Windows Licensing is a decidedly complex topic that has no-doubt caused many a sleepless night for buyers at system integrators, enterprises and OEMs the world over. It's far more complex than the situation for us consumers, with tiered pricing often based on volume, Windows version, use-case and even components within the systems the license is applied to. It's that latter aspect which may be causing consternation this week, as it's being reported that Microsoft are considering raising prices on licensing for systems with 'high-end' components.
According to Digitimes a 2018 update to the Windows OS licensing agreement would see levies on licensing beyond CPU performance grade, which was the typical metric used to determine price based on system components. According to their sources the choice of panel and quantity of memory could become a factor, almost inevitably driving up costs and eating into margins.
The move is expected to hit notebook manufacturers particularly, who may be relatively inflexible with their component configuration and have been hit with rising component prices this year. Manufacturers who may have been planning to cut costs by offering new mid-range CPUs in laptops (taking advantage of generational improvements by Intel and AMD), whilst retaining other high-end parts, would no longer be able to avoid higher OS licensing costs.
Microsoft's policy change is expected to go ahead from Q2 2018, and could potentially cause a modest bump in the price of pre-built systems and notebooks shipping with Windows pre-installed. There's no indication that this will affect consumer retail pricing for Windows.