The Wintel of Our Discontent

I don’t think Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini regrets what he said, I believe he meant what he said. But I doubt he wanted it to get out and I’m certain he doesn’t like how his words have played in the media. In a short 48 hour period the story has gone from Intel saying Windows 8 had bugs, to Windows 8 isn’t ready, to Oh My God Windows 8 is a puss filled disease laden system not ready for primetime.

As of today’s writing, Intel is planning to showcase x86 based Tablets and PCs in San Francisco; all running Windows 8 or Windows RT.What would have been another showcase for Windows 8 and Intel’s Atom and Clover Trail chips, will probably end up being another PR opportunity to show Intel’s support for Windows 8.

The concept of Wintel has always seem more menacing in legal files and on paper than in practice. And also the notion that this marriage is only now showing strains. For me I think the strains were evident in the aftermath of the Ultra Mobile PC or UMPC.

UMPC was a form factor initiative between Microsoft, Intel, and a number of OEMs. Its goal was to create a cheap, mobile internet connected device that in function was similar to the tablets used today. It was preceded by a viral campaign called the Origami Project and was met with natural excitement.

However issues arose when the first devices hit the market. The software wasn’t optimized for screens, the Intel processor was not the best, and the OEMs charged the devices out of regular consumer reach. The category broke down with Microsoft putting out a skin and Intel renaming their part Mobile Internet Devices or MID and Asus taking the hardware and building the first Netbooks.

Today Intel and Microsoft retain their relationship but I notice that their seems to be a tug of war going on between them (and honestly every OEM and ISV) over who ultimately runs Windows.

I’ve noticed it in Intel’s move to have more of a presence up the software stack with AppUp (Intel’s software store) and its push for Ultrabook apps running HTML5. Also in its passive aggressive tone about Windows RT (the ARM version of Windows). I honestly believe that Otellini’s comments were probably more about Windows RT than on Windows 8 itself.

Actually Intel along with others seem to be fervently struggling to stick a flagpole in Windows and declare ecosystems of one sort or another. AMD, Asus, and Acer are using Blue Stacks to Port Android apps to Windows. Samsung has announced it knows how to build one and will with Android and Windows 8.

But Intel is doing the most. The problem I see with it however is they don’t make the software and honestly all they and others are doing is trying to fork Windows (which I think is a mistake).

long story short, Wintel was always a temporary thing and the mobile space along with past history has moved the two farther apart in certain areas. In the long run it will probably be better for all involved    


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