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Intel CEO addresses Microsoft Office on ARM

Intel's CEO discusses Microsoft Office running on ARM chips, a potentially scary scenario for the chipmaker.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini characterized the prospect of Microsoft Office running on ARM chips as a potential "downside" during an earnings call today before trying to allay any fears of encroachment into the traditional PC market.

It is axiomatic that Microsoft Office, the worldwide gold standard for office application suites, has been one of the main reasons Windows software and Intel processors have such staying power. So, the specter of Office running on top of ARM processors from Intel chip rivals in the future is no small concern for the world's largest chipmaker. Microsoft said last week at CES that it would port the next version of Windows to ARM chips.

Otellini addressed this prospect during the call.

"Historically, Microsoft has only supported ARM in their phone OS and in their consumer electronics OS," he said. "The plus for Intel is that, as they unify their operating systems, we now have the ability for the first time to have a design from scratch, a touch-enabled operating system for tablets that runs on Intel that we don't have today."

He continued, addressing Microsoft Office. "On the downside, there is a potential, given that Office runs on these products, for some creep up coming into, let's say, the PC space."

He was quick to try to dispel any concerns, however. "I am skeptical of that for two reasons. One, that [market] space has a different set of power performance requirements where Intel is exceptionally good. Secondly, users of those machines expect legacy support in terms of software and peripherals that has to all be enabled from scratch for those devices," he said.