Microsoft: Intel's CPU Shortage Isn't a Big Deal

Photo Source: MicrosoftPhoto Source: Microsoft

Microsoft said in January that Intel's ongoing CPU shortage was affecting Windows sales. The company's tune changed on Wednesday: It reportedly said on a call about its third-quarter earnings report that it's no longer concerned about the processor shortage affecting its primary markets.

But it's important to note that Microsoft's lack of concern doesn't mean the CPU shortage has ended; it's merely been alleviated in the segments the company cares about. "We feel good about the supply in the Commercial segment and the Premium Consumer segment, which is where the vast majority of our revenue is in OEM," Microsoft CFO Amy Hood reportedly said on the call. "And so, I think in those segments, we feel fine for Q4."

That doesn't come as much of a surprise. Enterprise customers have priority when it comes to Intel's chip supply, with the shortage's effects being felt most clearly in the consumer market. We don't know what exactly Microsoft means when it says Premium Consumer, but we suspect it doesn't include entry-level desktops or laptops, which have seen the biggest fallout from Intel's inability to meet demand for its 14nm processors.

Microsoft could also weather the Intel processor shortage as manufacturers and consumers alike turn to AMD. The company doesn't particularly care what CPUs are popular as long as they're in machines running Windows. Its warning in January arrived when manufacturers appeared to be set on waiting for Intel to catch up with demand, so now that companies are simply using AMD's processors instead, things might not seem as bleak.

Is this good news for Microsoft? Sure. But it probably doesn't mean a lot for the market writ large. The company isn't dependent on Intel; other processors can run Windows just fine. Until more companies decide to use CPUs from AMD in their products--which is harder to do when they have to design their entire device around the processor--the lower end of the market will probably still be waiting on Intel to increase production.