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Windows 7 finds home at Intel

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Good news for Microsoft: Intel is looking forward to installing Windows 7 on the computers of its own employees.

Intel was arguably the most visible corporation that decided to skip Vista. And it was by no means lonely in its decision.

But Windows 7, it appears, will receive a friendlier welcome. At a Technology Summit with reporters and analysts today in San Francisco, Intel's EVP and chief sales and marketing officer Sean Maloney was asked whether Chipzilla would wait for the first Windows 7 service pack before it began deploying it to its employees.

"This time I think we'll go faster," said Maloney.

The company's top salesman also sympathized with those who passed on Vista. "There was an excuse not to deploy Vista, because - rightly or wrongly - people said 'wait for service pack X' or 'we don't like the compatibility issues.'"

But this time out, Maloney said, "There are really good reasons for the business client in terms of security, power management - lots of good reasons why you'd go for it."

Surveying the rows of laptop-using attendees, he added, "I'm sure half the people in the room are using it already - it looks really robust. You've got compatibility mode, which takes away a bunch of those arguments, so I think it's all positive."

The compatibility mode to which Maloney was referring, however, is less than a total panacea. As The Reg has noted, for an Intel box to run Windows 7's XP Mode, its CPU must support Intel's Virtualisation Technology, and you'll need to turn on that support in the BIOS. And unfortunately, many Intel multicore chips don't support Intel VT.

And then there are all those older PCs. Maloney estimates that in the US and Western Europe "there are hundreds of millions of units that are three-years-plus old." Intel VT was introduced in 2005, so most of those those "plus old" PCs are S.O.L.

But Maloney wants companies to upgrade their PCs to run Windows 7. "Now the question is," he said, "can we get the argument to the CFOs and the CEOs that it makes more sense to spend a little bit on capital to reduce your operating costs?"

And he's clear on the answer to that question: "We think it makes overwhelming sense if you have a three-year-old PC to replace the thing, for security violations, virus, power consumption, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera - and Windows 7 is just one big positive."

The upgrade-or-not question will be answered in the next few months, according to Maloney. "Spending decisions get made in September, October, and November. And last September, October, and November, the IT managers who wanted to buy equipment we're rapped over their knuckles by their CFOs and CEOs, and their budgets were cut.

"All those decisions are going to get made in the next three months ... and if CEOs and CFOs think that their aging, rusty old equipment should get replaced because it's more efficient to do so, then you're going to see an uptick in IT spending. If they don't, then IT spending is not going to recover."

So check back in a few months, and we'll know if the IT segment of the Meltdown will be over - and whether Windows 7 has been embraced by Intel. ®

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