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Microsoft is still struggling to convince its customers to upgrade from older versions of its desktop operating system to Windows 8, but a new strategy may help push reluctant Windows 7 users to make the jump straight to Windows 8.1. Sources speaking to The Verge claim Microsoft is experimenting with a free or cheap version of the OS called Windows 8.1 with Bing.

The Bing-powered OS would apparently offer pretty much the same experience as the full Windows 8.1 and come bundled with some of Microsoft's apps and services. The update would likely target Windows 7 users, but might also be offered as a cheap alternative for the company's PC manufacturing partners. The Verge notes that Microsoft is also considering a similar route with Windows Phone in an effort to bring more manufacturers on board.

Windows 8.1 with Bing is still just an experiment however, and there's no guarantee Microsoft will move forward with the project. Hopefully we'll learn more at the company's Build conference in April, where we also expect to see Windows Phone 8.1 finally unveiled.