Intel officials, on the eve of an event to tout tablet designs powered by their chips and running the Windows 8 operating system, are trying to beat back a potential controversy regarding comments reportedly made by CEO Paul Otellini regarding Microsoft’s upcoming operating system.
Reporters from Bloomberg reported Sept. 26 that during a meeting in Taiwan the day before, Otellini told Intel employees that Windows 8 has too many bugs still in it and is being released before it’s fully ready. However, he also said that Microsoft’s decision to release it made sense–Microsoft wants Windows 8 systems on retail shelves in time for the holiday gift-buying season–and that the software company can make improvements to it after it comes out.
The Bloomberg report said the source was a person who was at the meeting. The person was not named.
Earlier in the day, an Intel spokesperson told news outlets in a statement that “we continue to see Windows 8 as a significant opportunity across the board and are excited at our prospects in new form factors like Ultrabooks, tablets and convertibles.”
Later in the day, Intel released a stronger statement, calling the Bloomberg report “unsubstantiated” and noting the chip maker’s long partnership with Microsoft over the years.
“Intel has a long and successful heritage working with Microsoft on the release of Windows platforms, delivering devices that provide exciting experiences, stunning performance, and superior compatibility. Intel fully expects this to continue with Windows 8,” the statement read. “Intel, Microsoft and our partners have been working closely together on testing and validation to ensure delivery of a high-quality experience across the nearly 200 Intel-based designs that will start launching in October.”
According to the statement, Otellini is “on record as saying ‘Windows 8 is one of the best things that ever happened to Intel,’ citing the importance of the touch interface coming to mainstream computing and the huge wave of exciting new Ultrabook, tablet and convertible device innovations coming to the market.”
Some of those new devices are expected to be on display Sept. 27, when Intel hosts an event in San Francisco reportedly to talk about tablets and other systems running Windows 8 and powered by Intel chips.
In a statement to media outlets, a Microsoft spokesperson said that “with over 16 million active preview participants, Windows 8 is the most tested, reviewed and ready operating system in Microsoft’s history.”
The Windows 8 launch, expected Oct. 26, is a significant event for both Microsoft and Intel, as each tries to gain a foothold in a mobile device market in which they have little or no presence. The problem is exacerbated by the slowing of the global PC market, which has been beset by such issues as the uncertain worldwide economy and the rise of such devices as tablets and smartphones, which are siphoning off increasing amounts of consumer technology spending.
Intel executives earlier this month lowered their third-quarter financial forecasts, citing the global economy and slowing PC sales. Some analysts also see problems ahead for Intel, with Craig Ellis, an analyst with Caris & Co., saying earlier Sept. 26 that the growing popularity of Apple’s iPad and other tablets will continue to dog Intel for the next several quarters.
The wait for Windows 8 also may have had caused some consumers to hold onto their money, according to some analysts.
Most tablets and smartphones run either Google’s Android mobile operating system or Apple’s iOS, and are powered by low-power chips designed by ARM Holdings and sold by Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Nvidia, Texas Instruments and other vendors.
Windows 8 is optimized for tablets, and there also is a version coming out–dubbed Windows RT–that can run on systems powered by ARM chips. For its part, Intel is positioning its Core and low-power Atom chips for the tablet market, upping the performance while driving down the power consumption. The chip maker also is pushing its initiative around Ultrabooks, which are very thin and light notebooks that offer the productivity capabilities of traditional laptops and features like long battery life, instant-on and touch found in tablets.