Intel's Windows 8 gang will try to muscle in on iPad turf

Intel and its PC partners will move aggressively to win business customers, which Intel claims is a key advantage for Windows 8 running on its chips.

Asus Vivo Tab convertible uses Intel's new Clover Trail chip.
Asus Vivo Tab convertible uses Intel's new Clover Trail chip. Asus

Lest we forget, Intel is also trying to take on Apple and the iPad.

To date, we've heard a lot about the variety of Windows 8 that runs on power-sipping chips from suppliers like Nvidia. That's Windows RT.

For example, the first Microsoft Surface tablets, due by October 26, will run RT.

But RT does not run all of that old Windows software that businesses rely on. Intel's tablet platform, announced today, does.

"It brings over what you already have...millions of desktop applications," Chris Walker, general manager of Intel's application processors for the mobile and communications group, said in a phone interview.

And that makes Windows 8 tablets from Hewlett-Packad, Dell, Lenovo, and Asus immediately usable at corporations. "I can access my back-end ERP [enterprise resource planning] system, updating it in real time, pulling down all of the corporate information I need and managing like I do on a notebook," he said.

And this "flexibility" between consumer and corporate worlds is what separates Intel-based Windows 8 tablets and convertibles from Apple's iPad, Walker said.

One analyst agrees, though it may not be Apple that takes the market-share hit when Windows 8 tablets arrive in force. "Will people want Office on a tablet? I think they will, but this will take time and likely at the cost of notebooks and ultrabooks, not Apple products," said Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

"I also doubt that [Intel]-based tablets will be priced significantly lower than the Apple products," he said, adding that Apple also has a huge advantage in the number of tablet-centric apps available.

But Intel has another, more long-term ace up its sleeve. It is able to take advantage of in-house chip manufacturing, which is probably the most advanced in the world. Apple, by comparison, must farm out chip manufacturing for its A series processors to outside companies -- that it has no direct control over -- like legal-foe Samsung.

"As we move to 22-nanometer [manufacturing tech] and [future] 14-nanometer, we can take increasing advantage of [in-house manufacturing]," added Walker.

Intel currently supplies processors to all of Apple's Mac and MacBook lines. And, needless to say, it probably wouldn't mind making chips for future iPhones and iPads.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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