LAS VEGAS--Your next laptop may be touch whether you like it or not.
"To be an ultrabook with 4th generation core [processors], it will be required to have touch," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president of Intel's PC client group at the keynote today, referring to laptops based on Intel's upcoming "Haswell" chip.
That means all ultrabooks coming later this year -- likely in the summer timeframe -- will have touch, not as a feature, but as standard.
This will be a way for suppliers of Windows 8 ultrabooks to demonstrate that they have something that Apple doesn't. Though Apple has a commanding presence with touch phones and tablets, its MacBooks do not offer that capability.
And by mandating this on all future ultrabooks, the Intel camp of PC vendors have a better chance at countering the rise of the iPad, Google's Nexus tablets, and Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Many future ultrabook designs will undoubtedly be able to convert to standalone tablets or mechanically switch to a tablet mode.
And because Haswell will allow thinner designs, their physical dimensions will be less like a traditional laptop and more like a tablet.
Intel also wants to match the battery life of tablets with Haswell. "With the fourth-generation core we'll be able to delver the largest battery life increase, generation on generation, in the history of Intel corporation," Skaugen said.