Intel has picked a rather unusual feature, according to a recently granted patent. The fact that there is a patent does not mean that such a product will ever be made, but the thought is interesting nevertheless: The document suggests that a future computer would automatically come with a softphone based on the telephony application programming interface (TAPI) and TAPI library of functions in Windows. Microsoft and Intel jointly developed TAPI and launched the technology back in 1993 for Windows 3.1.
So, it is not new technology Intel is describing, but just a convenience feature that the company wants to be embedded in new computers. The idea is that a phone number shown on the screen and selected by the user would be automatically detected as a phone number and the user would be presented a dial pad to call that number. Incoming calls would also be displayed with a phone interface and show information such as caller ID data.
According to the patent, there is a need for a dialer "that has many capabilities such as conference, transfer, hold, park, drop, hold, dial a highlighted number on a list etc., and which can do this job with a context sensitive menu form to simplify the options displayed to the user based upon the situation."
Intel did not apply for the patent as far back as it may seem - the application was filed in 2010. There is no indication that Intel wants to directly integrate the phone feature into its processors, but the patent repeatedly refers to office environment as target area for this telephony approach. It may not be a groundbreaking idea, but it is not unreasonable to assume that an Intel PC could one day come with much more convenient telephony functionality that the still rather raw IP phone interfaces and features we are used to today.