I agree free is irrelevant,
You get back what you paid for the os.
Having an expendable 8.1 might be my only reason for taking Microsoft up on it's offer but then again as bad as the "should be simple" last build update went so badly for me from 9879 to 9926 so 8.1 will be on a expendable "cheap" hdd instead of a valuable ssd.
oem's are usually pretty cheap anyway when first released so the costs would be minor to skip the upgrade it just might take a little longer because manufactures are first in line for oem's
Either way Microsoft does need a good tool to find out if mother boards are compatible with these new fast start features otherwise it could get messy
2 million testers are nothing compared to billions of windows machines out there and most of those are 7'ers or at least half the holdouts from 8-8.1.