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Intel's Otellini Jabs ARM Over Legacy Support in Windows RT

By - Source: IDG News Service | B 22 comments

Intel's CEO jabs at ARM over a lack of legacy software support in Windows RT.

You really have to wonder how successful the Windows RT tablets -- those running on ARM-based chips -- will be on the market. Legacy x86 applications will not be able to run or be ported to the devices (says both Microsoft and Intel). Older printers and cameras may not even work as drivers are currently compatible with only x86 chips, and device makers will likely be reluctant to write drivers for a new architecture. As it stands now, not one manufacturer has announced a Windows RT tablet.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini on Thursday took at chance at driving home this outlook at the company's investor meeting in Santa Clara, California. Naturally Intel has the advantage over ARM because Windows essentially grew up using its x86 processors. Legacy software will be able to run on tablets sporting Intel's low-power Atom x86/x64 "Clover Trail" chips, a detail that will be highly important to CIOs looking to incorporate new Windows 8 tablets.

That said, ARM has a long, hard journey ahead. "We think it's a differentiator," said Otellini. "We have the advantage of the incumbency, the legacy support. There's going to be some compatibility issues for other architectures."

But Microsoft, in its effort to tackle Apple and it's highly-popular iPad, is trying to break into the tablet sector on two fronts. It's working with ARM-based chip makers Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to bring Windows 8 compatibility to tablets and PCs. The company is even throwing in basic native Office apps as an incentive to purchase a Windows RT teblet -- Microsoft Office will not be included with the x86/x64 tablets sporting Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

Yet despite Windows RT's shortcomings, consumers who purchase an x86/x64-based tablet won't simply be able to install old software and load it up as if it were fresh out of the box. Otellini said that users will be required to press a button on the device that will put the new OS into legacy Windows mode "for those who need an older user interface." But he also added that the Windows 8 tablets on Intel chips provide a snappy response.

Still, it seems that Windows RT tablets may have a hard time getting consumers to bite. It may boil down to what these devices can offer -- outside the Office apps -- that will be unique to the platform. One incentive may be the ability to run Android apps in a somewhat native environment given the majority of Android phone SoC's are based on ARM's architecture. Unfortunately, straight porting won't be possible. Offering lower price points than the Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro models should also be an incentive to buy.

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  • 13 Hide
    doron , May 11, 2012 11:03 PM
    SneakySnakeIntel: "If you can't beat em with performance, beat em with marketing"ARM chips are hugely superior to intel's on the mobile level. Sadly intel will probably release an "i7 powered tablet" and the masses will flock to it.


    Hugely superior? I'm puzzled, please provide some links with data to back up your claim. Thanks
Other Comments
  • -9 Hide
    SneakySnake , May 11, 2012 10:44 PM
    Intel: "If you can't beat em with performance, beat em with marketing"

    ARM chips are hugely superior to intel's on the mobile level. Sadly intel will probably release an "i7 powered tablet" and the masses will flock to it.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2012 10:57 PM
    Intel is correct. Windows RT is crippleware. I don't know why anyone would buy it. Why not just buy an android tablet? Windows RT in a notebook is just plain stupid as it will do nothing for any consumer. x86 tablets have a future as they can do both legacy and RT mode.

    SneakySnake, don't know where you are coming up with that. Thus far, only thing I've seen that beats Medfield is Krait and that is because Medfield is single core right now. I believe they will have dual core available for tablets. Problem with the Krait designs are that the Intel Medfield actually has better battery life. Actual performance/watt somehow FAVORS Intel now. Go to Anandtech and see for yourself. AMD will likely have something in the field soon too which also beats ARM.

    ARM is not a PC architecture. Excellent for phones for on a PC or PC tablet, it just isn't going to stack up.
  • 13 Hide
    doron , May 11, 2012 11:03 PM
    SneakySnakeIntel: "If you can't beat em with performance, beat em with marketing"ARM chips are hugely superior to intel's on the mobile level. Sadly intel will probably release an "i7 powered tablet" and the masses will flock to it.


    Hugely superior? I'm puzzled, please provide some links with data to back up your claim. Thanks
  • 6 Hide
    zybch , May 11, 2012 11:22 PM
    TheMandibleIntel is correct. Windows RT is crippleware. I don't know why anyone would buy it. Why not just buy an android tablet?


    Perhaps because android is ugly buggy crap.
  • 9 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , May 12, 2012 12:00 AM
    This is all fun and games until somone comes out with a x86 => ARM emulation layer. Intel has a ARM => x86 emulation. Can't be that hard to go the other way.
  • -2 Hide
    alextheblue , May 12, 2012 12:32 AM
    TheMandibleIntel is correct. Windows RT is crippleware. I don't know why anyone would buy it. Why not just buy an android tablet? Windows RT in a notebook is just plain stupid as it will do nothing for any consumer.
    How many consumers need legacy software? How many would need it on a tablet? Some will, and for those users there are x86 tablets. But as you said, many don't need legacy x86 software - look at Android. As Windows gets more Metro apps that are built for BOTH platforms, the need for legacy software compatibility will diminish even more for your average consumer. WinRT isn't meant to take over the PC market. It's meant primarily for entry-level tablets and low-cost systems.

    So from that perspective, it really isn't any worse off than other ARM-based systems. In fact, in the long term the ability to run the same software (Metro apps) on multiple platforms (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone) will be an advantage.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 12, 2012 1:09 AM
    Why do they buy the tablet in the first place alex? Right now a tablet is an overpriced paper replacement device that includes a camera and the web. Now that the novelty is over, what will compell people to buy it? The ability to at least do something else might be what sways them which is why the x86 tablet is a bit more appealing. WinRT is just crippleware. It offers nothing compelling over what is already out there. Win8 legacy at least gives you options. You can have best of both worlds and go from there. It makes spending several hundred on a friggin' tablet half bearable. I might actually buy one for the family now.

  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 12, 2012 2:47 AM
    This is going to be where Android + ARM dominates both of them. Android, by virtue of the LInux kernel, has the capability of supporting 95% of devices old and new, right out of the box without having to install anything.

    Microsoft broke their monopoly pact with Intel in an attempt to fend off Android, but it's too little, too late.
  • -3 Hide
    K2N hater , May 12, 2012 3:04 AM
    Let's wait and see. We can hope RT is coming with a full-featured version of Office free of charge and free of Metro.
  • -4 Hide
    DjEaZy , May 12, 2012 3:54 AM
    Intel's Otellini Jabs ARM Over Legacy Support in Windows RT? So? Maybe... but... there will be new kind of applications for it... and... when intel makes such a statement... it seems, that intel haz jet nothing to offer to counter ARM in mobile space...
  • -2 Hide
    11796pcs , May 12, 2012 4:06 AM
    Quote:
    The company is even throwing in basic native Office apps as an incentive to purchase a Windows RT teblet


    I want a teblet. Seriously, it's called spellcheck.
  • 1 Hide
    tomfreak , May 12, 2012 4:33 AM
    stop the crap talk, get me a x86 laptop that is as cheap as the ARM ones, as long battery life.
  • -2 Hide
    ojas , May 12, 2012 4:35 AM
    SneakySnakeIntel: "If you can't beat em with performance, beat em with marketing"ARM chips are hugely superior to intel's on the mobile level.

    DjEaZywhen intel makes such a statement... it seems, that intel haz jet nothing to offer to counter ARM in mobile space...

    Odd, there's substantial evidence to the contrary.


  • -1 Hide
    ojas , May 12, 2012 4:41 AM
    Tomfreakstop the crap talk, get me a x86 laptop that is as cheap as the ARM ones, as long battery life.

    Seriously? Which ARM laptops are these? How much do they cost? What's their battery life? Where can i buy them? Can they run Crysis at 10 fps?

    Talk about crap talk.
  • 0 Hide
    math1337 , May 12, 2012 4:48 AM
    I think it's already determined that Windows 8 x86 is beast, while windows RT is suck. On my windows 8 CP tablet, the first thing I did was uninstall all of that "metro" crap. Installing real desktop applications is just like normal.
  • 0 Hide
    tomfreak , May 12, 2012 5:42 AM
    ojasSeriously? Which ARM laptops are these? How much do they cost? What's their battery life? Where can i buy them? Can they run Crysis at 10 fps?Talk about crap talk.
    My bad I meant tablet lol.
  • 0 Hide
    saturnus , May 12, 2012 8:29 AM
    jkflipflop98This is all fun and games until somone comes out with a x86 => ARM emulation layer. Intel has a ARM => x86 emulation. Can't be that hard to go the other way.


    It's already out on android, and works reasonably ok.
  • 0 Hide
    ashesofempires04 , May 12, 2012 4:41 PM
    This all just sounds like marketing and PR scare tactics. I doubt many consumers with a WinRT tablet will have much need for legacy programs. If the tablet world has gotten along this far without legacy windows programs, then I think they'll be just fine with a WinRT tablet.

    Can you run linux apps on Android, or OS X apps on iOS? The answer is no. Separate programs are written for the mobile/tablet OS. Why does everyone suddenly assume that because it's Windows that not being able to run legacy apps on it will kill it?
  • 0 Hide
    madooo12 , May 12, 2012 5:40 PM
    jkflipflop98This is all fun and games until somone comes out with a x86 => ARM emulation layer. Intel has a ARM => x86 emulation. Can't be that hard to go the other way.

    actually it is, x86 is very complex and x64 requires a license from AMD (x86 is more than 20 years old so inHell cannot sue you for using it)
  • 0 Hide
    Vladislaus , May 12, 2012 5:57 PM
    madooo12actually it is, x86 is very complex and x64 requires a license from AMD (x86 is more than 20 years old so inHell cannot sue you for using it)

    Even though several aspects of x86 are indeed open, there are several extensions that are needed in order to emulate most recent CPUs that still needs licensing.
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