Together Microsoft and Intel have ruled the PC industry for a ridiculously long time, but with smartphone and tablet sales going through the roof, they now have a lot to think about. While both parties don’t seem entirely averse to venturing out of their longstanding relationship, Intel’s Android-compatible Medfield SoC and Microsoft’s ARM-friendly Windows RT OS seem little more than half-hearted attempts at being unfaithful. On Wednesday, however, a report that Intel CEO Paul Otellini had been heard criticizing Windows 8 in a recently held company meeting in Taiwan painted a slightly different picture.
While more of a steady smolder than a spectacular blaze when compared to the iPad, the Kindle Fire has shown that consumers are not averse to buying a non-iPad tablet as long as the price is right and the specs not too shabby. Amazon has literally lit up the tablet market, with a number of vendors now taking its lead in releasing affordable Android tablets. All the combustion metaphors aside, this surge in the ranks of decent budget tablets is only going to make the task that much harder for Wintel tablets, especially given Microsoft and Intel’s reluctance to subsidize their products. Everyone wants to know just how the duo would respond. Will the two giants try and enter into a price war with their rivals?
Windows 8 will be the first version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system to support ARM-based chips. When you’re asked to imagine ARM-based devices running Windows 8, isn’t it hard to think beyond tablets? But that is not the case with NVIDIA and Qualcomm, who are said to be banking on the Windows on ARM (WoA) platform to make a dent in the notebook market.
In what has to be arguably one of its most interesting revelations, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs has revealed that the late Apple CEO wanted the iPad to be powered by an Intel chip. If Jobs had had his way, Intel would have found itself in the driver’s seat in the burgeoning tablet market, something the chip maker is unlikely to achieve in the coming years according to a new report by DisplaySearch.
Intel is pulling out all the stops to get a foothold in the mobile and embedded device markets currently dominated by British chip designer ARM. Both the “Oak Trail” Atom platform that Intel began shipping to OEMs a few days earlier and its 32nm successor, codenamed Cloverview, are capable of running Android.
Running Android, however, doesn’t guarantee market success and Intel will need to curry favor with tablet vendors if it hopes to take the attack to ARM. That is precisely what the Santa Clara-based chip maker is rumored to be doing with a new strategy dubbed PRC Plus. So what exactly is this plan all about?
At the very beginning of the netbook era, some predicted testing times for team Wintel as they viewed the new form factor as a great opportunity for rivals to lessen the gulf. But both Microsoft and Intel emerged unscathed from the much hyped battle. However, with their rivals drawing first blood in the battle for tablet supremacy, the powerful alliance now faces a sterner test.
While the diminutive Atom has been received quite well in the netbook market, Intel knows that a few changes are needed as far as tablets are concerned. To this end, it is readying its next-generation Oak Trail platform. According to Digitimes' sources within the PC industry, vendors are unenthusiastic about Intel Atom tablets and only plan to launch Atom- and Windows-based models in small volumes so as to appease the two giants.
The Oak Trail system-on-chip (SoC) is designed to handle Full HD video while consuming 50% less power than the Atom. Optimized for tablets, netbooks and other small form factors, the SoC will support a number of operating systems including Windows, MeeGo and Android.
Rumors of an ASUS tablet first surfaced during December last year and the Taiwan-based company wasted little time in confirming them. But the internal organs of the Eee Pad still remained a subject of speculation. Today, ASUS put all that speculation to rest when it unveiled the Eee Pad at Computex 2010.
“The ASUS Eee Pad EP121 offers two convenient modes of character input-an embedded virtual keyboard or an innovative hybrid keyboard/docking station design. All of this power is available in a personal computing device that delivers up to 10 hours of usage,” the company announced in a press release.
As for the 10-inch EP101TC, ASUS has opted for Windows Embedded Compact 7 and the Nvidia Tegra 2 platform. Not a lot is known about the EP101TC at this point in time. According to Engadget, ASUS expects the Eee Pad tablets to fit into the $399 to $499 price band. The company also told the popular tech blog that it will only begin shipping the tablet during the first quarter of 2011.