The longstanding Microsoft-Intel relationship codenamed Wintel, which ruled the PC market for more than a decade, is starting to show fault lines after Microsoft refuted Intel's claims about the upcoming Windows 8 OS.
Renée James, general manager of Intel's software and services group, stirred up the hornet's nest when speaking at the Intel's Investor Meeting 2011 in Santa Clara, California; she divulged some key information about the upcoming Windows 8 OS.
James revealed that Windows 8 version will be available for both x86 and ARM architecture. She also stated that the ARM-based Windows 8 will not support legacy apps and that Microsoft was developing four versions of Windows 8 for ARM chips.
She used the legacy apps pitch to claim that Intel will not be affected by Windows 8 for ARM chips as Intel purports that having a Windows 8 on x86 which also runs legacy apps, plays to Intel's advantage. It claims that since none of its competitors will run Windows 8 with legacy app support, Intel will have a distinct advantage and competency.
However Intel's long term ally Microsoft has not warmed up to these claims. The Register reported Microsoft's response to Intel's claims as: Intel's statements during yesterday's Intel Investor Meeting about Microsoft's plans for the next version of Windows were factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading.
And while Microsoft failed to name the specifics it further expressed its discomfort as it said: From the first demonstrations of Windows on SoC, we have been clear about our goals and have emphasized that we are at the technology demonstration stage. As such, we have no further details or information at this time.
Microsoft's response seems to validate what Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet said about Intel divulging key Microsoft plans. She reported: There was nothing too terribly revealing in Intel Senior Vice President of Software and Services Renee James' comments about Windows 8 during Intel's shareholders meeting this week. But even the fact that James called Microsoft's next-generation operating system by its codename will, no doubt, be ill-received by the powers-that-be in Microsoft's Windows division.
Intel's announcement is further widening the chasm between the two companies which opened up when Microsoft announced its plans to craft Windows 8 for ARM architecture in January at the CES 2011.
Microsoft's decision to tap the ARM architecture was primarily driven by the fact that most of the current breed of Windows tablets running on Intel chips return poor battery life, are clunkier and heavy. Microsoft has been under pressure to address this caveat in its tablet strategy.
Intel's claim that legacy apps will not be supported on ARM-based Windows 8 actually underscores Microsoft's strategy to streamline and downsize Windows. Windows as an OS for tablets is considered to feature rich for tablets. Also the ARM architecture, though power-efficient, cannot support multi-tasking features and multiple OS platforms, whereas x86 architecture supports multiple software even older versions. As ARM architecture requires a platform to be rewritten for it Microsoft is focusing on writing a new lighter OS for ARM and thus lacks legacy apps support.
Thus chucking out legacy apps from ARM ratifies the industry's claim that Windows OS and tablet interface do not combine well. Microsoft has been struggling to deliver a successful tablet for a decade and at the root of its problem is its fixation with Windows OS. Thus developing an ARM-based OS ground up punctuates its move away from the strategy of slapping Windows OS on various form factors like tablets.
However the move away from supporting legacy apps does not bode well for Microsoft's OEM partners who will be shipping multiple Windows-based tablets, as it is a loud statement that Windows is not adequate for tablet. Thus Microsoft is attempting to keep the matter in wraps while Intel has done the opposite by announcing the plans publicly.