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Microsoft lets chip makers pick Windows 8 ARM partners

updated 10:20 am EST, Mon December 5, 2011

Windows 8 tablets led by Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba

Microsoft is taking the unusual step of letting ARM processor designers choose their own partners for Windows 8 systems, part suppliers stated Monday. NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments were each being told to pick one major and one minor partner, Digitimes understood. Among the major partners, NVIDIA had picked Lenovo, Qualcomm had chosen Samsung, and TI had selected Toshiba.

Samsung had also been chosen by TI as a minor partner, suggesting more than one Windows 8 tablet would come from the company. NVIDIA had chosen Acer as a minor partner, while Qualcomm chose Sony as a similar supporter. Both Acer and Sony primarily focus on Android.

The choice of Samsung was reportedly because of its scale and its relatively strong position among non-iPad tablets, the contacts said. NVIDIA, meanwhile, was purportedly courting Lenovo to get scale in the Chinese market.

Combined with talk of Microsoft dropping the traditional desktop in Windows 8 on ARM, the careful selection points to Microsoft trying to get closer to its Windows Phone model, where just a handful of companies work on tightly integrated devices, than to the traditionally loose Windows PC model. Its method, if confirmed, would be intended to more closely replicate Apple's iPad strategy with a heavily optimized match of hardware and software.

Such a move would, however, risk alienating companies that have traditionally been extremely dependent on Microsoft for their business, including ASUS, Dell, and HP. They can freely make Intel-based Windows 8 tablets, but they're also unlikely to have the same thin designs and longer battery life of the ARM models, possibly leaving them in the same niche positions as today.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. qazwart

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2001

    -1

    Last Time Microsoft Upset their Partners

    The last time Microsoft did something that really upset their "partners" was the introduction of the Zune and the dropping of their "Plays Everywhere" scheme. This also was a copy of Apple's strategy of tightly integrating the software with the hardware, but it didn't succeed.

    Maybe Microsoft will have better luck with this. However, Dell and HP, two of the partners getting the short end of the stick, are the two largest PC manufacturers too. HP came close to dropping out of the PC arena entirely, and Dell is shifting out of the consumer market. I wonder how these two behemoths might respond to this particular move.

    It could be that Microsoft's desktop profits are so low that Microsoft might not really care about it anymore. Things are only going to get tighter in that market for Microsoft, so maybe Microsoft is looking ahead and not seeing any reason to toss their two biggest business partners a bone.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010

    +1

    Hung out to dry

    Re: "They can freely make Intel-based Windows 8 tablets, but they're also unlikely to have the same thin designs and longer battery life of the ARM models ..."

    Microsoft isn't sure which way to go with their W8 pads: ARM-based or Intel-based. Clueless. So what do they do? They set the stage for an ARM vs. Intel W8 pad deathmatch.

    Microsoft will just go both ways and let the market decide. Wasteful, yes, but it accomplishes two goals. First, Ballmer can point the finger at one or the other chip maker (most likely Intel) when their line of Windows 8 pads fails. He can divert blame from Windows 8 itself and turn Intel into a scapegoat.

    Second, by keeping Intel in the loop even half-heartedly, Ballmer can make it look like he's not abandoning Intel in the pad space. He avoids becoming the bad guy who hung Intel out to dry. He can claim that he gave Intel a fair shot. And all Intel can do as they're getting thrown down the staircase is say "Thanks Steve. What would we do without you?"

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: Hung out to dry

    Microsoft will just go both ways and let the market decide. Wasteful, yes, but it accomplishes two goals.

    Yeah, how dare they let the MARKET decide. That's just stupid. They should just make a random decision and say "You all need to go with this!" and force them down that path. Because we know that's the best way to get things working. Just pick something and stick to it, regardless of the costs.

    Look how well it worked for Apple in the 90s/2000s. They decided "We're going PPC!" instead of letting the market decide. And while they started out slightly better, they got trounced in the performance wars, to the point where they had to switch gears and tell everyone "OK, now we're going Intel. Everyone start changing your code!".

    First, Ballmer can point the finger at one or the other chip maker (most likely Intel) when their line of Windows 8 pads fails. He can divert blame from Windows 8 itself and turn Intel into a scapegoat.

    That makes no sense. The only finger pointing Ballmer needs to do is if BOTH lines fail. And if both fail, it will be due to Windows 8. The whole point of letting the 'market decide' is to find what is the best choice. So one failing is more of an indicator that it wasn't the best choice.

    Second, by keeping Intel in the loop even half-heartedly, Ballmer can make it look like he's not abandoning Intel in the pad space. He avoids becoming the bad guy who hung Intel out to dry. He can claim that he gave Intel a fair shot. And all Intel can do as they're getting thrown down the staircase is say "Thanks Steve. What would we do without you?"

    So, you're saying Intel should feel upset because Steve threw them down the staircase after giving them a chance? But what would it be doing to intel if they just said "ARM only"? So it's no difference, except they're getting a chance.

    Apparently you think they should just give it all to Intel (where you'd then be saying "Hey, way to go idiots, for picking the worse processor!).

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