Intel plans Windows 8 phones

Paul Otellini

Chip maker outlines hopes for full-fat Windows on smartphone devices

Intel boss Paul Otellini says his company plans to offer Windows 8 on smartphones - putting the chipmaker on a collision course with Microsoft.

Speaking after Intel posted record profits for 2010, Otellini was asked his views on Microsoft's decision to port the next generation of Windows to the ARM platform.

A bullish Otellini described the announcement as "not a lot of new news" before claiming that full-fat Windows running on system-on-a-chip platforms also had advantages for Intel.

"The plus for Intel is that as they unify their operating systems, we now have the ability for the first time... to have a designed-from-scratch, touch-enabled operating system for tablets that runs on Intel that we don't have today," the Intel CEO said.

"Secondly, we have the ability to put our lowest-power Intel processors running Windows 8 – or 'next-generation Windows' – into phones, because it's the same OS stack. And I look at that as an upside opportunity for us."

Intel's plans to put Windows 8 on smartphones runs contrary to Microsoft's plans for its operating systems. Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, Steven Sinofsky, the president of the Windows division, said: "[Windows] Phone is uniquely focused on small form factor".

"Small screen is Windows Phone, and these [tablet] screens are Windows," he added.

Performance battle

Otellini said he was confident that Intel's processors would comfortably outperform ARM when it came to running full-blown Windows systems.

"Many of you have asked us questions about how we will compete with ARM in the new segments of mobile computing," he said.

"Our answer is very simple: as we have done for decades in the traditional computing markets, we will apply the world's most advanced silicon transistor technology to these new segments to deliver the lowest power, highest performance, lowest cost products on the planet."

He claimed running tablets on Intel architecture gave device makers maximum flexibility. "By designing Atom-based tablets, they have the opportunity to run multiple OSes on it," he said.

Eating away at PCs

However, Otellini did concede that the success of tablets could eat into Intel's PC stronghold. Indeed, two leading analyst firms this week claimed that devices such as the iPad had stunted PC sales in the run up to Christmas.

The Intel CEO said ARM would have to overcome a couple of hurdles before it could compete in the PC market, though. "That space has a different set of power and performance requirements where Intel is exceptionally good," he argued.

"Users of these machines expect legacy support in terms of software and peripherals that has to all be enabled from scratch on those [ARM] devices," he added.

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