Intel's Otellini: Windows 8 'one of best things' for company

Intel CEO on Windows 8: "I think it's one of the best things that's ever happened to our company."
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

To say Intel CEO Paul Otellini is upbeat about the prospects for Microsoft's Windows 8 may be a bit of an understatement. In fact, Otellini said Windows 8 is "one of the best things that's ever happened to our company."

That's one pretty heady statement. Speaking at a Credit Suisse technology conference, Otellini batted away worries that he called myths surrounding Intel. These myths covered the idea that ARM will hurt Intel, that the PC is toast and that the chip giant can't do mobile well.

A lot of those worries---myths in Intel's view---have links to Windows 8. Here's what Otellini said about Windows 8:

We are very excited about Windows 8. I think it's one of the best things that's ever happened to our Company. And it's a very good operating system, not just for PCs, but we think also will allow tablets to really get a legitimacy into mainstream computing, particularly in enterprises that they don't have today. A lot of the enterprise managers are worried about security, they're worried about the difficulty affording their legacy applications over to an Android tablet or to an iPad.

What Microsoft is doing is making that seamless for them. And they have a new experience, which they call Metro, that's the interface up there. But for Intel-based machines, there is also one button that basically takes you back to your classic Windows experience and that's a software button essentially.

So you're just running one manifestation of the operating system with two different GUIs, if you will, it's not running on virtual machines, it's one manifestation. So this gives us, x86, in particular, I think a unique advantage as Windows 8 comes to market, because we can take advantage of all the legacy that was ever written, and all of the fact that all the drivers for the mice and for printers and every other USB device in the world. For example, getting photos off your camera and onto a tablet.

Try that if you don't have a driver, doesn't work. On the other hand, if that tablet is running [an extension] of Windows, it's going to work just like it works with the PC today. So there is a huge advantage built in that we think we have as the Windows 8 products start launching.

Those comments followed a question about the ARM architecture. Otellini argued that Windows 8 on ARM will have a few natural disadvantages---notably support for legacy applications. Otellini likened Windows 8 on ARM to the transition when Apple moved from PowerPC to Intel. In other words, the switch isn't trivial.

On other key points:

Emerging markets are driving PC sales. Otellini said that the PC is far from dead. In fact, China, Brazil and India are heavily populated countries where an emerging middle class is buying PCs.

The PC has become stale, but the industry is fixing that problem. Otellini said:

One of the things that we have to do though as an industry and as a Company is to make sure that the PC remains vibrant. I think it's gotten a little stale, to some extent. There was a rush to the bottom, in terms of lowering the costs and taking features out and making the PC a little bit more boring than their counterparts in consumer electronics, for example, the iPad kinds of devices. So Intel is set out to redefine the PC again and we've done this several times in the past in our history. This one is very interesting.

It's an initiative that we call, Ultrabook. This is about thinner, sleeker, faster, more responsive PCs, longer battery life, more secure, but also at a mainstream price point. The Apple MacBook Air has been out for several years now, but it's a high -- it's a premium priced device.

CES will be about mobile for Intel, which will deliver high performance at lower power. Otellini said:

All the major vendors are now, silicon vendors are moving to a model where you develop these Form Factor Reference Designs, where you basically lock down the components and validate them on networks, on the 3G, 4G networks that are out there such that they can go -- our customers can go through IOT testing very quickly to get on -- into the market.

And you'll see a number of Intel customers using the guts of this phone to go into the market in the first half of next year, and we'll have more announcements on that at CES. But what I've done here is, we've measured this phone against the other top-five-selling -- high-selling smartphones that are out there today. And on the top chart, this is power, lower is better, right, and so standby 3G, we're not the best, but we're pretty darn close. For audio playback, we are the second best and well ahead of the pack. And on 720p video playback, again better than most and almost the best-in-class.

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