The Strain Is Showing: MS, Intel, Trade Potshots At CES

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News Posted: Sun, Jan 9 2011 4:21 PM
Microsoft's demonstration of Windows 8 running on ARM processors may have been one of the major events of CES, but the OS's 2012/2013 release date has been criticized as a day late and a dollar short. One of the tidbits that slipped out of CES is that IT analysts aren't the only ones frustrated with Redmond's timetable. Intel Senior VP and general manager of the sales and marketing group, Tom Kilroy, revealed at CES for a long time. Us, and others like Dell...We’re very bullish on the tablets segment. It’s very good for the industry as a whole."

It was Microsoft, ironically, that put a major push behind tablets back in 2001, but the resultant market flop and the need to focus on other top-priority issues like XP security, may have left the company simultaneously distracted and gun-shy. With Windows 7 mired in UI issues, there's no guarantee Win 7 will penetrate the new market, leaving Intel no choice but to take a bifurcated stance on tablets.

Kilroy made it clear that Intel's excitement over tablets is tempered by the belief that the new systems are distinctly consumer-centric. Tablets, according to Kilroy, are designed to create and consume media above all else. This focus makes them a huge potential market, but Intel doesn't think tablets will pose a threat to its core desktop or laptop markets. "For myself, and I’m not a very sophisticated user," Kilroy said, "The tablet still has a lot of limitations.”


Atom, in all its puissant glory

Intel may be focusing on the tablet as a consumer device, but it's far from blind to other possibilities. Vendors like HP and RIM have already aimed tablets at the enterprise market and they're the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are any number of markets that could benefit enormously from tablets, including both the education and medical fields. Intel definitely wants to be a player in these markets; the company's "Atom Everywhere" slogan reflects its long-term plans. The fact that Windows 8 Tablet Edition won't be available for years, however, puts quite a dent in enterprise product development.

The two companies have effectively crossed each others' stars. MS's decision to prominently talk up an OS two years away running on a rival's CPU is a shot over Intel's bow and the CPU manufacturer definitely returned in kind. With non-Intel, non-Microsoft products coming on strong, the Wintel alliance is facing a difficult battle for dominance at a time when neither company is in a position to reinforce the other. As things are now, we expect to see a number of Atom + Windows 7 tablets on the market, but we're also betting Intel turns up the heat when it comes to Android and Meego development.
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3vi1 replied on Mon, Jan 10 2011 2:11 PM

Poor Meego - Intel's red-headed stepchild. Are they waiting for WinARM devices to appear before actually pushing it as a solution?

I can understand why they would - It'll also run on ARM devices, so that's bad, and Intel's the only ones that will run Win7 which is "good" (for them). But, if they wait for the WinARM threat to get real, it will have been too late.

Push Meego now, Intel!

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rapid1 replied on Mon, Jan 10 2011 2:23 PM

The one thing which I have thought since Intel started the Atom was this, other companies products do a better job initially, and the netbook market which was there focus is a no profit market really. This whereas the smart phone market (IE: mini slate market is profit galore), until now at CES most of the slates including the iPad are blown up smart phones. This was largely due to the fact there was no significant OS just adaptations of smart phone OS's, and down scaled desktop OS's.

I think a year ago or more would have been the prime time for M$ to do something about this. Where as now Android has almost the entire market except for the iPad, which I really consider more of a glorified LCD e-reader, at least in the current model. The major problem I see with the iPad as a device is rooted in Apple insistence on remaining a device manufacturer and software producer, and of course there software and "hardware" only work together.

Because of this other developers cannot operate on an Apple device, business's cannot make custom software, and it leaves the iPad as a media hub only. I also fault Intel as I mentioned before the netbook market is a no profit market. So they should have been working on a processor series more geared toward where the ARM processor market is focusing, rather than a processor that basically operates netbooks, or network hub machinery, and all in ones which are woefully underpowered when run on Atom systems.

I will also fault there SandyBridge processor which may have it's advantages, but is underpowered versus one by AMD/ATI as far as graphics capabilities, and also energy usage it seems. If Nvidia ever wanted to jump into the processor market, which to me it seems they have already done with there Tegra/Tegra2 processor, then Intel is going to be weakened. Think about it from the wide view point, and consider how many different processors both central as well as graphic on the market including the ARM brethren. It would seem to me there are between 8-10 big players in that market sector if not more.

As for M$ while I will give them props for Windows 7 which I like, I will also say it seem to be a hyped copy of XP with Vista capabilities. While that is not necessarily a bad thing entirely, and one which I enjoy using as a main OS, they should have also been concentrating on a specific OS. I am sure your thinking that they did with the W7 phones, and it's OS, which is true. On the other side of things it seems Apple, and Google were both doing exactly that, and making both Tablet and Smart Device mobile aimed communication OS's as well.

Basically both Intel and M$ seem to be one step in the wrong way in the current device trail to me. They can blame each other, and make snide remarks concerning one another, but really the fault lies nowhere, but within the own corporations singularly. I will also add that if they are a team, that a team does not accomplish anything when they are not working together.

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realneil replied on Mon, Jan 10 2011 2:52 PM

"Intel doesn't think tablets will pose a threat to its core desktop or laptop markets"

I agree, My desktops are here to stay, and I may never justify the cost of a tablet PC since they cost so much.

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Drago replied on Mon, Jan 10 2011 7:47 PM

Tablets have their place which is in the expensive gotta have to be popular market. Tablets could work well in businesses and medical institutions that try to go paperless, but face it you can do the same stuff with a laptop or netbook and they cost much less. Tablet's im afriad just like the PDA have niche uses and are kinda like a fad that will eventually go away.

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Joel H replied on Tue, Jan 11 2011 1:16 PM

I wrote a long reply. The refresh ate it. I really, really hate that.

Neil, I think we'll see tablets--decent ones--at a $199 price point within two years. Neither notebook nor tablet will ever replace my desktop, but I can imagine opting for a tablet instead of a notebook, provided I picked up a portable keyboard+mouse. I'm not saying that'll actually ever happen, but it could.

Drago: Ask a nurse or a teacher if they'd rather work and walk around with a light device that easily fits in one hand and is optimized for fingers or a heavier device meant for keyboard-mouse input. I think you'll find that tablets win hands down, provided OS and software support is good. Older students might prefer notebooks, but elementary schools are much more likely to opt for small, kid-size tablets that may or may not be kept at school.

As much as I loathe the way students rely on computers and calculators these days, I think this is quite likely. Tablets will also have another advantage. Children tend to learn mouse control and basic keyboard stuff quite quickly, but a tablet presents an even more intuitive interface--move your finger, move the program. Touch a 'button' something happens. If you advocate the use of these devices in the first place, tablets win over notebooks in that age group.

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