Windows 8 on mobile phones? Don't get your hopes up...

Intel CEO Paul Otellini has stirred up a hornet's nest with comments about the possibility of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system coming to phones. But that's not quite what he was saying.

Windows Phone 7 ? Ancient news, old bean. It's all about Windows 8 on mobiles now. What's that? Windows 8 isn't even out for desktop PCs yet? Tsk, mere details.

The speculation that Microsoft could put its next-gen OS on phones stems from an unimpeachable source: Intel CEO Paul Otellini, speaking on the record during the company's financial conference call yesterday.

Our sister site ZDNet.com has the relevant quote: "We have the ability to put our lowest-power Intel processors running Windows 8, or 'next-generation Windows' into phones, because it's the same OS stack."

So much for Windows Phone 7, eh? Its big brother is coming to cannibalise its lunch. Except, if you read that quote again, it's clear this wasn't what Otellini was saying. He's talking processors, not operating systems.

Windows 8 will be designed for desktop PCs, and also tablets. Bigger screens than smart phones have. The raison d'etre of Windows Phone 7 is that it's been designed from the ground up for mobile phones.

It's a giant step on from the original Windows Mobile OS, which particularly in its early days felt horribly like a PC-based operating system unsuitably squashed down for a mobile device. If WP7 shows anything, it's that Microsoft won't ever make that mistake again.

Intel putting its Windows 8-capable processors into mobile phones is exciting for many reasons -- the "lowest-power" aspect included -- but 'running Windows 8 on phones' isn't one of them.

There'll be a Windows Phone 8, as sure as there'll be an iOS 5 and an Android 4 in time. But like those rivals, Microsoft's mobile software will be built around what you do on a phone.

 

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