So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

Summary: The New Year brought out a few analysts predicting that the inability of Microsoft and Intel to adapt to the mobile computing market will mean the end of Wintel. The end of the Windows/Intel juggernaut will mean the rise of Google and the ARM architecture.

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The New Year brought out a few analysts predicting that the inability of Microsoft and Intel to adapt to the mobile computing market will mean the end of Wintel. The end of the Windows/Intel juggernaut will mean the rise of Google and the ARM architecture.

We'll call Google/ARM "GARM" for short. GARM refers to Google's Android operating system and the ARM architecture, which dominates the mobile market. Intel and Microsoft primarily ride with the x86 computing architecture. (WINdows InTEL) Refers to the world's largest computer environment, which is Windows running on an Intel CPU.

Susquehanna Financial analyst Chris Caso set the scene in a research note:

We believe the convergence of three enablers – Android, ARM and touch – have the potential to end the dominance of Microsoft and Intel in what we now know as the PC market. At the very least, we think the emergence of a Google/ARM duopoly will be highly disruptive. The bottom line is that ARM-based processors are now capable of fulfilling the majority of consumer computing requirements in a cheaper, lighter and more power-efficient package than the current notebook PC. At this point, we believe the genie is leaving the bottle – we think MSFT and INTC can take steps to participate as the market shifts, but we believe the market shift is inevitable. With respect to INTC, we think its superior manufacturing capability and processor expertise will enable it to be a market participant, but the eventual elimination of the “Wintel” entry barrier in the mobile computing market would have negative long-term market share and margin implications.

Caso's theory is on target, but the timing is tricky. It's easy to get convinced to do a Wintel doomed post, but the reality is much more nuanced. For starters, Intel bought Infineon to play better in the mobile market. Microsoft also was reportedly going to show off a version of Windows on the ARM architecture. Mary Jo Foley is highly doubtful of that one.

Even though Intel and Microsoft are dabbling in the ARM market, both companies are too tethered to the x86 architecture to really go crazy. That fact means that Marvell, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Nvidia and others can sneak up on Intel.

The worries about Intel are so evident that Auguste Gus Richard, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, kicked off the year with a downgrade. Richard rates Intel a "neutral" because "Intel is missing the wave in the ultramobile market and is not likely to gain traction in 2011."

He continued:

While Intel manufacturing prowess is unparalleled, it is shackled by its x86 legacy in the ultramobile era. Intel has been unable to drive material penetration in the ultramobile market and we expect this will continue in 2011 and likely 2012. We do not expect Intel's 32nm Medfield platform for smartphones, expected in 1H:11, to gain significant share in 2011 and perhaps 2012. We understand Intel is dropping legacy x86 features in order to lower power consumption in future products, but it is not clear if this is Medfield or the next generation. We think Intel may have to abandon its legacy x86 architecture or significantly improve its (system on a chip) design capability to be competitive. We think the train is leaving the station in the ultramobile era and so far Intel is not on board.

Do you buy the death to Wintel case? If so, what's the timing?

Related:

Topics: Processors, Google, Hardware, Intel

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79 comments
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  • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

    I wonder if Larry Dignan has ever heard of Windows 7 and Microsoft Office...
    hfsma
    • You did not get much...

      @hfsma

      out of this blog, did you?

      Your hindsight is 20/20, but looking into the future, you are almost blind.
      Economister
    • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

      @hfsma

      Nope. Larry's a fan of Mad Men, he thinks an advertising company famous for its betas and failed software (Wave anyone?) is the only hope for the future. Obviously UI design stopped in the 90s or is Google just being retro?

      Then there's the mess that's Android. Which version are you using?

      MS is a software development company. Its products (or at least its older products) are essentially copied and produced for lesser OSs. Goggle's big breakthrough is to remove all the useful parts of an OS and produce proprietary hardware that only runs its browser. I did mention Google is an advertising company didn't I?

      Then there's the thin client scam. Back every few years as regular as clockwork when someone else gets the idea that they can make a lot of money if they lock people in.

      Oh and I have an ARM phone and it's running WP7, which makes Android look very, very old. My home PCs and all my business PCs are capable of 64 bit, so I prefer an OS that was designed for more powerful processors.

      The death of Wintel is about as likely as Linux becoming a popular desktop OS (which should encourage the Linux fanbois) ;-)
      tonymcs@...
      • It is actually iOS and Android that have made MS products look very very

        old, including WP7 based on a failed OLD music player OS. The tiled interface is really dorky. And that is about it, a failed old music player OS shoehorned into Android hardware with bits of pieces of the failed Win Mobile mixed in for good measure.

        Win32/64 came out on Windows 3.1 and has changed very little, it is getting very old. New versions of MS Office are not much different than Office 95.

        Nobody is saying that MS can not pull another rabbit out of its had, but, it does not bode well.
        DonnieBoy
      • Really?

        @tonymcs@...
        The WP7 UI reminds me of something I'd expect to see on a 1980s Xerox machine only with the addition of colors. It makes itself look old. And it's funny that you should mention lock-in. MS Office is the most successful lock-in product in history, bar none.
        jasonp@...
      • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

        @tonymcs@...
        "Then there's the mess that's Android. Which version are you using?"

        XP, Vista or 7. All three command large shares of the Wintel market. How is that any different from the multiple Android versions?
        Theli
      • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

        @Theli@...

        Don't forget the Windows NT4 and Windows 2000 (still have some of those running).

        I actually have software that requires specific service pack levels. It may have to be Windows XP SP2 but can't be SP3, requires Vista SP1, or it requires Windows 2008 R2

        Windows fragmentation is far worse than any Android fragmentation.
        dragosani
      • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

        @tonymcs@...

        Google looks like some half baked playschool kids crap. No thought put into it and just slapped together on a fragmented super buggy platform. I wonder why they chose Linux... Hmm Google Super half baked and buggy... Linux... Half baked and buggy... PRESTO!

        Be careful Tony, you have awoken the biggest special bus troll... DONNIEBOY! w00t!

        @DonnieBoy

        Hmm iOS doesn't make any MS products look old, if anything look at how MS Office looks so bland and old on a Mac but so rich and clean on Windows. Google just looks like MS Office 1.0 back from 87... Like 3 options to type with and every keystroke logged so they can better advertise to you, sounds like a great platform...

        I honestly think that Mac OS X looks very nice and clean and will only get better... Oh and what processor do they use? Oh yeah x86... So I guess Apple must be going out of business soon as well right? Dolt...

        WP7 is different than all the rest... Better than the no talent copy cat garbage Foolgle calls Android. Funny how Foolgle has icons which resemble quite closely to tiles just smaller which is a great idea for a small screen which are not even animated. At least Microsoft could pull that one off oh and it's super fast never lags or glitches like Android seems to be built around. WP7 impressed the hell out of all my friends running Foolgles crap and all pissed they are trapped for 2 years on a crap OS that needs updates every couple days, SMS texts getting mixed up since the launch of Android and all the ads that crash the phone and kill the battery. Sounds like a great choice.

        Windows 3.1 is quite very different than most anything MS has produced in the past 18 years. 3.1 had no start menu and was quite reliant on MS-DOS whereas Windows XP has no MS-DOS nor Vista or 7. Start menu came in Windows 95 as did the task bar. They ditched the gray theme in Windows XP for a more polished look and eventually got rid of the stupid blue green colors with Vista. Finally here we are with Windows 7 with superior indexing and program management. Ask anyone who has used all versions of Windows to look how far the OS has come since the launch in 85 to present and they will laugh in your face.

        Also Office has come a long way as well.

        Office95
        http://www.pgf.net/bc/mo998c1d.gif

        Office2010
        http://photos.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/wordeffects.png

        Sure looks more advanced to me...

        Once again, you're all talk yet no proof.
        audidiablo
    • Yes, he has heard of Win7 and MS Office, they are last century's technology

      That is what they are talking about here. Arm with iOS and Android has EXPLODED on mobile platforms, including tablets. Virtually NO MS operating system in those markets. At the same time, Win32/64 is dying and losing importance. We are at a crossroad here, and MS just may be able to pull another rabbit out of the hat and create more lock-in somewhere to keep the monopolies running. But, the success of Apple / Google / Arm in the mobile space does not bode well.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

        @DonnieBoy
        Tony is trolling as normal. Provides no evidence to any of his claims. Sounds a lot like Lovey.
        daikon
    • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

      @hfsma

      Yes he has, he's heard of MS-DOS too... but Larry Dignan was writing about a platform typically associated with phones.

      Post something relevant,
      -M
      betelgeuse68
  • At least this article will give DonnieBoy hours of delight

    @NonZealot.
    I'm taking a guess at 14-16 posts from him on it, alone. :)
    John Zern
    • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

      @John Zern

      Only 16? I'm betting at lest 50+ posts of nonsense.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • One of his hands will be too busy to post

      @John Zern any more than say 20 posts on this...
      athynz
    • Guys, just calm down and argue your points. No reason to get delirious.

      NT.
      DonnieBoy
  • MS dominance is assured, ask a NonZealot;-)

    "potential to end the dominance...At the very least...will be highly disruptive"

    Given MS and Intel's failure in the mobile space to date, and the relative growth of this market, the position outlined above appears supportable.

    We were told Atom would reverse it for Intel, but delivery has been well short of expectations. WP7 was to do the same for MS, now we're told to wait for WP7.5.

    I'm not as convinced by press releases as some...
    Richard Flude
    • Atom did well

      @Richard Flude

      netbooks, but they didn't last long.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: So long Wintel, hello Google, ARM?

      @Richard Flude: That's IF the mobile market replaces the existing desktop market. I think this is way premature. Wintel / OSXtel can still live in the desktop and server arena. You won't be doing Photoshop or Cakewalk or serious text editting on an iPad or phone. They aren't even that great for email. And there are a whole class of games that won't run on them either or at least not at the performance levels of desktop or laptop.
      DevGuy_z
    • Really Rich?

      But yet you view things so baised against Microsoft, why should we believe what you say is accurate?

      If you start with the outcome you want, its easy to make the data match the conclusion.
      John Zern
    • Ah the MCSE with the unintelligent comment

      What's Zern's interpretation of the lack lustre sales figures to support your position and not my biased one?;-)

      DevGuy_z I agree with the importance of desktops as a segment. But are they enough to support MS' historical dominance built on win32 API, I suspect not. Without this barrier are they all that relevant? Not if we look at the big movers in the past couple of years.

      Cylon, I've developed a few product on the Atom. It's not that they're bad, but they've fell far short of the hype (and look no closer to matching it). They're still way off ARM in the low power market.
      Richard Flude