Date: Thu, 23 May 2013 11:09:58 +0200
- Computing and software
Information technology in transition: The end of Wintel
As Microsoft and Intel move apart, computing becomes multipolar
THEY were the Macbeths of information technology (IT): a wicked couple who seized power and abused it in bloody and avaricious ways. Or so critics of Microsoft and Intel used to say, citing the two firms’ supposed love of monopoly profits and dead rivals. But in recent years, the story has changed. Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, has retired to give away his billions. The “Wintel” couple (short for “Windows”, Microsoft’s flagship operating system, and “Intel”) are increasingly seen as yesterday’s tyrants. Rumours persist that a coup is brewing to oust Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s current boss.
Yet there is life in the old technopolists. They still control the two most important standards in computing: Windows, the operating system for most personal computers, and “Intel Architecture”, the set of rules governing how software interacts with the processor it runs on. More than 80% of PCs still run on the “Wintel” standard. Demand for Windows and PC chips, which flagged during the global recession, has recovered. So have both firms’ results: to many people’s surprise, Microsoft announced a thumping quarterly profit of $4.5 billion in July; Intel earned an impressive $2.9 billion. ...