Computex 2013: Haswell, Bay Trail, and 8.1 Tales

In a lot of ways this years Computex, the annual computer trade show in Taipei, was not a good one for Microsoft. All the news was about the continued rise of Android on tablets and now PCs. But the funny thing was as much as there was talk about Android, Windows was lurking in the background.

Now if you want what the biggest story of the show was it was Intel and Haswell its 4th generation Core I chip. Unlike Ivy Bridge which was more of a traditional release, Haswell is seen as Intel finally getting into mobile. Along with Haswell Intel showed off BayTrail its System on a Chip (SOC) offering that competes directly with ARM chips. Intel also showed off their discreet graphics card known as Iris which competes with fellow x86 chip maker AMD.

A lot of the press was focused on Haswell because of the work Intel did in pushing its high performance Core stuff into something that was more mobile and power efficient. With Haswell comes new PCs such as refreshes to many Ultrabook lines (like Asus’s Zenbook) along with new designs (fan less Core tablets). One thing Intel was touting was its 2in1 devices, basically a rebranding of Tablet PCs with hybrid designs. The one interesting thing about the 2in1 is that it cements the hybrid design (where a tablet comes with a keyboard dock) and the flip (a laptop that can be used as a tablet) as valid form factors.

Well Haswell got the glory I think BayTrail will end up being the story. BayTrail is Intel’s response to ARM’s army of mobile, low powered chips that run most of the worlds tablets and phones. BayTrail is interesting not only because it runs Android (IDKNDIGF) but it looks to eclipse ARM with a mix of both power and energy efficiency. I think for many tech writers its ability to run Android makes it a winner, and that Intel landed the chip in the next Samsung Galaxy tablet.

I personally thought it ironic that there were more Windows devices than Android ones on stage.

Speaking of Windows you would be forgiven to think they had no presence at Computex. While Intel was treated to Live blog coverage as were a few others, Microsoft’s briefing received scant attention until after the fact. And that is a shame because this year’s briefing was news worthy. Microsoft showed off Windows 8.1 its update to Windows 8. It also announced price drops for PC makers, Office for Windows x86 devices, and full support for portrait in tablets.

One thing is certain, this year’s Computex highlights a major shift in the PC market, one that when finished will see Android taking more ground and Microsoft getting more vertical.

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