Intel is threatening to derail Microsoft's release of Windows on ARM devices - with the Windows operating system capable of running conventional Windows programs - after Intel fired out a very public intellectual property warning.
The initiative is part of Microsoft's ongoing Windows Continuum plans, and was revealed when Microsoft and Qualcomm unveiled the first ARM-based Windows PCs, which will be coming later this year.
While good news for Qualcomm, Intel, which has been in command of the market for 40 years (punctuated by the odd surge for AMD) it's a serious threat that could put a spanner in the works.
In a blog post, chief lawyer Stephen Rodgers and director of Intel Labs, Richard A. Uhlig, said: "There have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel's proprietary x86 ISA without Intel's authorisation.
"We do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel's intellectual property rights."
It goes on to warn that, as it has in the past with the likes of AMD and Citrix, it will vigorously defend what it regards as its intellectual property rights.
"Intel carefully protects its x86 innovations, and we do not widely license others to use them," adding that emulation doesn't mean that copyright battles are off the table, citing Transmeta, a company it sued even after it exited the PC business.
But Microsoft needs Qualcomm's initiative to make Continuum worthwhile.
The key part of Continuum relies on getting Windows 10 working fully on ARM so that Windows apps can run on any chip platform. It is also central to Windows 10 S, the company's walled garden operating system intended as an alternative to Googles Chrome operating system.
So despite the sabre rattling, Intel might have to face the new reality, just as Microsoft has. And that means recognising that it isn't a one-horse town anymore and that, while it is better at high-performance machines, Qualcomm has it sewn up on smaller form factors and mobile. It's to everyone's advantage if the two are working together.
In short, if Intel sues, expect Microsoft to support Qualcomm, rather than its long-standing partner in the old "Wintel" alliance.
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