Barrett takes Intel president role

Craig Barrett today officially assumed the position of president at Intel Corp., adding the role to his current title of chief operating officer.

In an interview with PC Week prior to the company's annual shareholder's meeting here today, Barrett said he has been fundamentally performing duties of the position, alongside CEO Andy Grove, for months.

In the executive shifting, Grove today officially became chairman of the board, while former chairman, Gordon Moore, moved to chairman emeritus.

As he takes the helm as president, Barrett and company face two separate patent infringement lawsuits filed against Intel by Digital Equipment Corp. and Cyrix Corp.

While Intel is determined to not handle the matter in public, Barrett said, "Digital's claims are unfounded."

He added that Intel got "zero, zippo - no warning," from Digital of the impending lawsuit.

"There is a normal way to do business. This is an abnormal way to do business," he said, referring to the way in which Digital went about making the lawsuit public.

Intel, he said, will "vigorously defend itself." However, he would not comment on the potential for out-of-court deals.

Some observers have speculated that Digital is trying to force Intel into licensing the P6 bus architecture.

At the shareholders meeting here, the new president also spoke to the Santa Clara, Calif., company's planned events at PC Expo next month.

Intel will host an event in which it lays out additional plans for NetPCs. In addition, several major OEMs are expected to show prototypes of their NetPC systems, sources said.

While Intel co-authored the NetPC specification, it is also a major proponent of the managed PC - which it has defined as a full-featured networked client that is easily managed from a central console.

Barrett said he believes there is room for several types of networked clients - even Java-based network computers - that help lower the cost of ownership. However, Intel will endorse Wintel-based systems.

"Rather than go off and create servers in the sky here or an entirely new architecture there, what we're looking for is taking the basic, powerful, flexible personal computer and keep it as a personal - and I stress personal computer," he said.

During the shareholder presentation, the departing Moore announced the company's intention to increase the number of available shares from 1.4 billion to 4.5 billion.

Grove pointed to its communications products - network interface cards, network controllers, hubs and routers, as a major focus for the company. He laid out his vision for the 1998 desktop PC - one in which videoconferencing and three-dimensional graphics are mainstream capabilities.

Grove also said the company will introduce network controllers based on the smaller .35-micron manufacturing process in 1998.