Rumor: Windows tablets running Clover Trail getting delayed?

Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini recently received quite a bit of flack for stating that he felt Windows 8 was shipping way before it was truly ready for prime time. Intel released a statement shortly after apologizing for the whole ordeal. That should have been the end of it. Now in an ironic twist, it seems that it is Intel that isn’t ready after for Windows 8.

A new report coming from BusinessWeek claims that an unnamed source has revealed that Intel’s new low-power system on a chip design, known as Atom Clover Trail, isn’t yet ready and might result in the delay of several Windows 8 tablets from high-profile companies like Samsung, HP and Dell.

This is a serious allegation. Any truth to it? It’s hard to say. If Microsoft wasn’t leaning on ARM, I’d say absolutely not. Being that Intel is now just one player out of many in the tablet processor game, it’s possible but I still feel Microsoft would do its best to ensure this kind of catastrophe doesn’t happen.

Microsoft is getting into the tablet game (arguably) a little late, and needs the move to go as smoothly as possible. Even if it isn’t Microsoft’s mess up, having several key tablet delayed could hurt holiday sales and hold back Microsoft from driving Windows tablets into consumer hands this fall and winter. Windows 8/RT is a well designed tablet OS, despite what naysayers are claiming, but a smooth introduction and launch is imperative.

What is causing the delay and how will it affect the Windows 8 Launch?

Apparently the root of the delay is problems with getting the company’s power-management software ready (allegedly). This is the software that helps monitor battery life and adjust processor speeds and performance accordingly. Supposedly, Microsoft won’t certify and finalize any tablet running Clover Trail until they have a fully working and ready power-management software from Intel.

Intel might be (somewhat secretly) angry that Microsoft opened up Windows to ARM processors, but they aren’t stupid enough to burn the bridges they have built with Redmond over the years. Insulting Windows 8 and then delaying several key tablets will not only hurt MS/Intel relations, but it will drive Intel hardware partners and vendors away.

If this is true, it is very good news for ARM competitors, and even better news for AMD. While not all Intel tablets are running this SOC (many higher-end models will run i5/i7 chips, for example, and some might run older Intel ATOM designs), it is still a big part of Intel’s tablet strategy and something that they can’t afford to have go this poorly.

AMD is already working with BlueStacks to bring Android apps to Windows 8 tablets, giving them a possible advantage over Intel. If the SOC solution from Intel goes south, that may open even more doors for AMD.

Will this hurt Windows 8 and its partners if this is true? Somewhat, but it will most likely just be a small bump in the road that they will smooth over in time. As for Intel, this could truly affect Microsoft and Intel vendor partner confidence in the x86 chip maker. Would it destroy Intel? Of course not, but it might give AMD the opportunity they need to gain a bit more marketshare.

I’m hoping this is nothing more than a rumor. I can’t see Intel blowing it this badly and I can’t see Microsoft letting them. I really want to call BS on this but I’m not 100% sure what to think. What about you? Any truth to this rumor or is it just unsubstantial gossip floating around the net?

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