Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Intel: Windows? We Love Windows. We Love It Sooooo Much!

Being the world’s biggest supplier of microprocessors for personal computers makes it a little difficult to make unvarnished and off-the-cuff observations, even within the supposedly confidential confines of an internal meeting with employees.

So when Bloomberg News reported yesterday that Intel CEO Paul Otellini had told Intel employees at a meeting in Taiwan that Microsoft’s Windows 8 is being released before it is ready, it quickly made waves and prompted questions about precisely what he meant.

Today, Intel, which would normally ignore such a kerfuffle, took the unusual step of slapping back at what it called “unsubstantiated news reports” and reiterating an earlier comment that Otellini had made in public that, “Windows 8 is one of the best things that ever happened to Intel.”

Here’s Intel’s statement in full:

Intel Statement in Response to Unsubstantiated News Reports

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 26, 2012 – Today Intel Corporation issued a statement in response to unsubstantiated news reports about comments made by Intel CEO Paul Otellini in a meeting with employees.

Intel has a long and successful heritage working with Microsoft on the release of Windows platforms, delivering devices that provide exciting experiences, stunning performance, and superior compatibility. Intel fully expects this to continue with Windows 8.

Intel, Microsoft and our partners have been working closely together on testing and validation to ensure delivery of a high-quality experience across the nearly 200 Intel-based designs that will start launching in October. Intel CEO Paul Otellini is on record as saying “Windows 8 is one of the best things that ever happened to Intel,” citing the importance of the touch interface coming to mainstream computing and the huge wave of exciting new Ultrabook™, tablet and convertible device innovations coming to the market.

Note that the statement doesn’t contain an unambiguous denial.

Anyway. Intel clearly is a tad embarrassed by the story and has been put on the defensive here. As a sign of the long-term fraying of the Wintel alliance that has essentially defined the PC industry for two decades, it’s not entirely surprising. Microsoft did some damage of its own in 2011 when it said it would be launching versions of Windows for ARM-based chips, a flavor now known as Windows RT.

But are the bugginess reports true? There is indeed a lot of chatter about the status of Windows 8, but nothing specific as yet.

I checked in with Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy. He’s a former AMD senior exec with lots of contacts in the PC industry. He says he’s been told by contacts at some PC makers that there are “some compatibility issues in Windows 8.” He went on: “They declined to say what kind of issues or go into details. Problems range from the small, which can be fixed quickly with a patch, to major ones like in Vista, which took years to address. I do not know what kind of issues they are.”

Jim McGregor, a longtime chip industry analyst and founder of TIRIAS Research, has been checking, too. He says Microsoft is undertaking what is by far the most ambitious release of Windows that it has ever attempted. Consider all the flavors of Windows there will be: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, three flavors of Windows RT for Nividia’s Tegra chips, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and Texas Instruments’ OMAP chips, plus a new hardware platform in the Surface tablet. The complexity is clear.

“The greatest complexity comes from the new user interfaces,” McGregor told me. “Just adding touch is challenging because there are a dozen different touch-enabling technologies and they are changing all the time. Plus there is gesturing and other user interfaces to consider. It becomes incredibly difficult to create the same experience with different technologies and on different platforms. The results is that people are calling it ‘buggy.'”

Microsoft, he says, has to nail this release of Windows from the start. “They can’t afford another launch like Windows Vista, which had so many problems, especially if they want enterprise adoption.”

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