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Intel chief’s candor about Windows 8 could sabotage tablet event

Windows 8 is "unready" but still significant

Intel’s press event tomorrow in praise of upcoming Windows 8 machines could be awkward in the wake of news that the company’s CEO deems the new Microsoft operating system unready and in need of improvements.

Just about a month away from the Windows 8 launch, Intel  and executives from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and ZTE are going to tout new tablets and convertibles – just the type of gear for which Windows 8 was designed. 

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Presumably they will talk with enthusiasm about their upcoming products based on Intel’s low-power Atom processor. It will be difficult not to mention Windows 8, which Microsoft hopes will blur the distinction between tablets and traditional PCs and sell a lot of this kind of device in the process.

That message could be undercut by comments attributed to Intel CEO Paul Otellini in a Bloomberg story indicate he thinks Windows 8 is lacking.

Here’s what Bloomberg said:

“Intel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini told employees in Taiwan that Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it’s fully ready, a person who attended the company event said.

“Improvements still need to be made to the software, Otellini told employees at a company meeting in Taipei yesterday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private.”

That falls in the category of candor and doesn’t condemn Windows 8, but it may cast enough doubt on Windows 8 that customers hesitate to buy, especially between the Oct. 26 launch and the holidays, which was a record-setting time last year for tablet sales.

As for Intel, a spokesperson says the company doesn’t disclose details of what might or might not be said at private, internal employee meetings. “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,” a written statement from the spokesperson says.

Which can be true and still fit in with what Otellini is said to have said – Intel is excited about the Windows 8 opportunity but thinks Windows 8 needs work.

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)

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