Microsoft and Intel: The Empire strikes back

Windows 8
Windows 8: We're quite excited by this one

It's been an interesting week for tech news. First, Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 8; then, Intel announced that Google would be optimising Android for its mobile processors and talked about its next generation

Haswell and Broadwell CPUs


Or to put it another way... fight!

It's impossible to look at Microsoft and Intel's announcements without thinking of two companies beginning with A: Apple and ARM. Apple is a huge threat to Microsoft - it effectively owns the tablet market as well as the luxury PC market, and its talk of the post-PC era isn't something Microsoft wants to hear - and ARM is a threat to Intel. ARM-based chips power all kinds of tablets, including Apple ones, and could end up powering Apple's computers too.

To take on the A-firms, it seems, Microsoft and Intel are bringing their A-game.

A right old ding-dong

Of course, in any battle there's the risk of collateral damage. In this case, Microsoft and Intel's moves could end up upsetting Microsoft and Intel. But that's OK. They're big enough to take it - and the results could be really interesting.

As we've seen from yesterday's Windows 8 reveal, Microsoft is taking this tablet thing seriously. It wants you to buy a Windows 8 tablet rather than an iPad 3, a Windows 8 PC rather than a 2012 MacBook Whatever, and if that means upsetting Intel so be it: Windows 8 kit won't necessarily be Intel kit, as the new operating system runs on ARM processors too. Windows Phone is on ARM already. The benefit for us? A wider range of Windows-powered devices.

Intel, meanwhile, wants you to buy an Intel-powered tablet, smartphone or PC rather than an ARM-based one, and if that means upsetting Microsoft so be it. If Microsoft's going to get pally with ARM processors, it seems, then Intel's going to get pally with Android. The benefit for us? A wider range of Intel-powered options.

I like it when tech firms fight. Like guilty parents bribing the kids with shiny presents after a Shiraz-fuelled shoutfest, the result tends to be more shiny toys for all of us - and as a paid-up gadget geek, I like shiny toys.

Bring your popcorn, because this battle's going to be brilliant.

To reverse the Aliens vs. Predator tagline: whoever wins... we win.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.