Microsoft and Intel
The marriage that dominated personal computing becomes more open
Sep 17th 2011 | from the print edition
TOGETHER Microsoft, the maker of the Windows operating system, and Intel, the world’s biggest maker of semiconductors, used to rule the world of personal computing. Now that new computers are as likely to sit in people’s hands as on their desks or laps, life for the Wintel couple is less comfy. On September 13th, at their annual conferences for software developers, both claimed to have found new zest—not least from dallying with other partners.
Gartner, a research and consulting firm, expects that this year only 3.8% more laptop and desktop PCs will be shipped than in 2010. That is partly because people have tightened their belts, but also because they are snapping up tablets and smartphones. Both Microsoft and Intel have struggled to adjust. The phone version of Windows has had good reviews but was installed in only 1.6% of smartphones sold in the second quarter; Google’s mobile operating system, Android, scooped 43%. Windows’ share of tablets is minuscule. And in markets where battery life is prized, economical chips designed by ARM, a British company, have made the running. Intel has made virtually no impression in tablets and none at all in smartphones.
Both firms boasted this week of liaisons with others. Intel and Google said that future versions of Android would be tuned for Atom, Intel’s family of low-power processors. Phones with Intel inside should be on sale in the first half of next year. Microsoft showed off the next version of its operating system, code-named Windows 8, using ARM chips. It wants to reassure the army of developers who write programs to run in Windows that these will be just as reliable as Intel’s.
Microsoft also told developers how easy it would be to create applications for Windows 8 and to put them in a “Windows Store”. Happy developers are essential, because the more apps they create, the more users will want to use Windows 8. Better still for both users and developers, the system will run on everything from PCs to smartphones.
同时，微软也一直向应用软件开发人员们宣传为Windows 8制做软件并存入Windows软件商店是何其地容易。软件开发者开心是必须的，因为这样才会有更多的应用软件，也就会吸引越多的用户使用Windows 8。此外，这个系统将运行于从个人电脑到智能手机的所有平台，这对用户和开发都来说可谓是喜上加喜。
Steven Sinofsky, the head of Microsoft’s Windows division, says Windows has been “re-imagined”. A user sees chunky “tiles”, as on a Windows smartphone today, rather than small icons; and he can view two apps at once, which he cannot do on an iPad. The system is designed for touch-screens, common on mobile devices but not yet on PCs—though you can use a keyboard or mouse if you like.
Windows 部门主管Steven Sinofsky说道，Windows 已经重新设计了用户界面。用户将看到像现在Windows智能手机上那样的瓷砖式的显示，而不是小的图标。它还能同时浏览两个应用程序，这是在iPad上也没有的功能。目前这个系统只能在触屏移动设备上运行，个人电脑版的尚未发布，但是如果你想的话，只要接上键盘和鼠标，看起来和PC也没什么两样。
Writing off either of these giants, even after their slow start, would be daft. Intel is probably closing the power-consumption gap with ARM. Microsoft claims to have 450m users of Windows 7, the operating system’s latest incarnation on PCs. Many of these, and people with older versions, may upgrade, especially if they can use the same system on all their devices, at home or at work.
不管是微软，还是英特尔，尽管他们近来反应迟钝，但无视他们都是一种愚蠢的行为。英特尔完全有可能缩小与ARM 间的能耗差距。微软也声称其拥有4.5亿的用户正在使用其最新的个人电脑操作系统Windows 7。由于Windows8能在所有的设备上运行，不管是在家里还是在工作单位都可以使用一样的操作系统，所以众多的windows7以及更旧版本的用户都可能会选择升级。
Even so, the clock is ticking, especially for tablets, where the competition will get fiercer. Apple’s iPad2 is selling like, well, an iPad. By the time Windows 8 tablets appear, a third version may well have won Apple even more customers. Amazon, buoyed by the success of its Kindle e-reader, is expected to launch an Android tablet within weeks. Its vast online shop, selling much more than books, may be a draw. Other Android tablets are arriving all the time.
尽管如此，还是必须争分夺秒，尤其是对平板电脑这种日新月异、竞争激烈的商品而言。苹果的iPad2 正如其一代iPad 一样热销。待到Windows 8平板上市时，苹果的第三版平板可能已经抢占了更多用户。Kindle电子书阅读器的成功也鼓舞了亚马逊，预计其安卓平板也将在数周内上市。其在线销售多种产品的综合网上商城，将会是其一大助力。其他安卓平板也将陆续上市。
Some contenders, such as Research In Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, have already stumbled; HP has all but given up. “The longer they [Microsoft] leave it,” says Carolina Milanesi of Gartner, “the more consumers will have found an alternative, and not just for tablets but for PCs too.”