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WinTel trips on Linux?

Here a quid, there a quo
Fri Mar 21 2003, 14:04
AS A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE the WinTel alliance used to work pretty well. Intel lived up to Moore's Law by building ever larger and more complex chips, while Microsoft executed Gate's Law by churning out ever more bloated and serially incompatible versions of its software.

Microsoft's next new thing meant junking your old PC and buying a new one with Intel's faster chip inside too. Those faster Intel chips just clamored for more extensive productivity suites, desktop and internet publishing, interactive games, and high quality music and video to take full advantage of them. Both sides of the duopoly made out like bandits in this mutually reinforcing cycle. Until a year or so ago, that is.

With Intel having to hustle to stay ahead of AMD, and Microsoft lately wondering when its ever going to see double-digit revenue growth again, they seem to be cozily conspiring to thwart each other's competitors.

Intel is stiff-arming Lindows in an apparent attempt to disadvantage it in the Centrino notebook market, and one can only wonder why. Meanwhile, Microsoft's stalling on producing x86-64 versions of Windows for AMD. It seems only yesterday they 'promised' this, but Jerry Sanders retired.

This might seem like just normal WinTel collusion and skulduggery, but those marketing geniuses at Intel and Microsoft who've put their heads together haven't understood the new factor in these markets: Linux.

White box notebook makers will have no trouble getting their hands on plenty of Pentium-M chips. Even if these won't have Intel's Centrino branding, lots of savvy consumers will save a few bucks to buy them... and run Linux. These notebook OEMs won't be paying any Microsoft taxes even if the machines are sold in regions where users pirate Windows.

Conversely, desktop and server buyers who want the price/performance of AMD's x86-64 Opteron and Athlon-64 systems will just run Linux on those. There's another promising segment of the market that won't be spending any money with either Intel or Microsoft in this replacement cycle.

Quid pro quo has been around long enough that they named it in Latin, but this instance might turn out to be more a case of Intel and Microsoft marketeers playing "I'll shoot your foot, you shoot mine." µ

See Also
Linux blocked from Centrino says founder
No schedule for Windows Server 2003 for Hammer


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