LONDON The news that Intel has got the Android mobile software stack from Google running on Atom-based smartphone designs as well as being important in its own right, could also be a sign of a break in the log-jam over Big Windows and ARM processors.
Maybe Intel has wrong-footed Microsoft with the move, or maybe Intel is responding to a Microsoft move that has not yet gone public. But what does Intel and Google Android have to do with Microsoft's full Windows operating system and ARM, I hear you ask?
Well some observers have assumed that there was tacit understanding between Intel and Microsoft to the effect that Intel wouldn't support the Microsoft-threatening Android software as long as Microsoft wouldn't expand its support of the Intel-threatening ARM.
Would such an understanding be legal? We've seen plenty of legal action over abuses of market dominance in the past but I am not sure. If nothing was written down and there was no formal agreement, it might be OK.
But in any case it appears that market diversity is increasing. A PC World report quoted Renee James, Intel senior vice president and general manager of Intel's software and systems group, saying on the sidelines of Intel Developer Forum Beijing, that Intel has Android running on Atom-based smartphones and certain customers are interested in using it.
Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded already run on ARM processors so it would be interesting to see if Microsoft was tempted to reveal an ARM port of Windows 7.
However, the question then becomes whether ARM, its licensees and OEM partners have any lingering interest in the port? Time has moved on and many of the players, including companies such as Samsung, now seem quite content to produce or support netbooks with Linux-based operating systems such as Android, Ubuntu and Chrome running on ARM. Do they want to go back and produce a full-featured Windows 7 computer running on ARM?
Related links and articles:
ESC: Confab to host another round of Intel versus ARM
ARM will overtake Intel in netbooks, smart books, says analyst
Android heads for high def roles