Windows 8 will be bringing along with it Windows RT, an OS designed around the ARM architecture, but a few upcoming Intel chipsets could threaten sales of devices bundled with Microsoft’s RT operating system by providing x86 processors that work as well (or better than) current ARM mainstays in phones and tablets.
Previously Intel has been unable to compete on a pricing level with ARM processors but recent Medfield SoC (system on chip) solutions from the company indicate that prices are becoming far competitive. It also seems to be likely that Intel’s follow-up to Medfield, Clover Trail, will find its way onto mobile devices later this year. While there are no confirmed performance stats as yet for the dual-core SoC, expectations are that it will rival or exceed the capabilities of the current top-of the-line ARM chips from Qualcomm.
If this is the case, Microsoft and Windows RT will face some tough competition, mostly from itself. Should Intel’s x86 chips become more widespread, the limited RT operating system will find itself competing against fuller-featured Windows flavours that actually support domains, group policies, Windows Media Player and file encryption. The hardware specs for phones, tablets and other mobile devices may be almost identical but an Intel-created x86 brain could be the clincher that makes RT, which is unable to run any x86 software at all, the second choice.