How Wintel is Crumbling

Once upon a time, the duopoly of Intel and Microsoft ruled the computing world, with the monopoly Windows riding on top of countless millions of PCs powered by Intel chips. Today, that Wintel relationship is crumbling, with the once-tight business partners competing against one another as well as cooperating. And things will only deteriorate from here.

The latest sign of the now-prickly relationship is that next week Microsoft and Intel will hold dueling developers' conferences. Intel holds the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), Sept. 13 to 15 in San Francisco, and Microsoft holds its BUILD conference for developers, from September 13 through 16 in Anaheim, California.

In bygone times, the partners wouldn't schedule conferences at competing times. But that was in the days before mobile computing upended the technology world. And mobile is what is driving Intel and Microsoft apart.

Take a look at what is expected to occur at each conference, and you can see why the one-time best friends are becoming rivals as well as partners. Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, told Computerworld that Intel plans to show that Intel-made Atom chips can rival ARM chips running Android tablets. He said Intel may even show Android tablets based on Atom at the show. There there will be technical sessions for Android developers at the Intel forum, he adds.

Then, of course, there's the Intel-developed MeeGo designed for phones, netbooks, and more, which will compete with Windows and Windows Phone 7. Intel recognizes that mobile is the future, and so it's betting on Android and MeeGo, competitors to Windows and Windows Phone 7.

Meanwhile, rumors are that a higlight of Microsoft's BUILD conference will be Windows 8 tablets given out to attendees, possibly built by Samsung, and not running Intel chips.

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices don't run on Intel chips, and many Windows 8 tablets won't be running them as well.

Mobile killed the Wintel monopoly, and it's continuing to eat into the close relationship between Microsoft and Intel. And that's a good thing. A varied and robust technology market leads to greater innovation and lower prices. And who would argue with that?

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