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Otellini yawns at Windows on ARM

Chipzilla stays on message

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After Microsoft announced that the next release of its Windows operating system would run on ARM chips, Chipzilla headman Paul Otellini and his staff must have received a memo from Intel Thought Central.

That missive would have said something along the lines of:

  1. It's not news.
  2. We welcome it.
  3. We will grind the bones of our enemies into powder and cast them to the four winds.

During a conference call with reporters and analysts following Intel's announcement on Thursday of its 2010 fourth-quarter financial performance, president and CEO Otellini took much the same tack as did the Intel spokesman with whom we spoke at last week's Consumer Electronics Show, starting with menu item number one, above.

"I guess I view it as being not a lot of new news," Otellini said, "and I can see positives and negatives for Intel in this announcement. Historically, Microsoft has only supported ARM in their phone OS and in their consumer electronics OS. So they've had ARM support for some time."

Otellini did go beyond the spokeman at CES, however, when he said that Microsoft's flagship PC operating system has not always been Intel-only. "In fact, in 'Big Windows', [Microsoft] had support for, gosh, Alpha, PowerPC, MIPS," he said, "and at one point, [it was slated for] ARM on the Vista program that they dropped. So this is nothing really new from that perspective."

The Intel sachem then moved on to item number two. "The plus for Intel is that as they unify their operating systems," he said, "we now have the ability for the first time: one, to have a designed-from-scratch, touch-enabled operating system for tablets that runs on Intel that we don't have today. And 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."

Exactly what advantage it would be to put "Big Windows" onto a smartphone, Otellini didn't say.

On to door number three. Although our CES contact had the street charm to challenge ARM by saying: "You want to come and party in our kitchen and rattle the pots and pans? I've got Sandy Bridge. Bring it on," Otellini used corner office–appropriate locution to convey the same message.

"Many of you have asked us questions about how we will compete with ARM in the new segments of mobile computing," he said during the prepared-statement segment of his conference call. "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."

Wrapping up, Otellini said: "When these chips are combined with our support for the world's leading operating systems, our proven ability to create broad ecosystem support, and our growing software capabilities, I'm confident we will be very successful in these segments."

Translation: "Bring it on!" ®

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