Stakes high as "Wintel" puts all its chips on Windows 8

TAIPEI - The world of Wintel - Microsoft, Intel and the Taiwan-based companies that build the computers their products power and run on - is taking a huge collective bet on Windows 8.

And while this week's Computex trade show in Taiwan has largely presented a united front, it has also highlighted some of the tensions that big gamble has created in a once tight relationship between the U.S. firms and their Asian partners.

At stake is the future of the world's largest software developer, whose new operating system is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter, and it largest chip maker, as well as an island-wide industry of computer makers and parts suppliers.

In one corner you have Microsoft Corp, which is porting its tiled Metro interface used in Windows Phone to tablets, laptops and the desktop.

Although the old point and click interface is still available, the focus is on a touch screen that pits Windows against Google Inc's Android and Apple Inc's iOS.

In another corner you have chip maker Intel Corp, long Microsoft's partner in personal computers.

Intel has not only seen its position slip as the world shifts to mobile devices, it has also had to make room beside Microsoft for Britain's ARM Holdings Plc, whose mobile-friendly chips may be better suited for tablets running Windows 8.

And then there are the computer manufacturers themselves, most of whom are based in Taiwan and who are struggling to combine Microsoft's new operating system and Intel's chip-based designs into products that sell - and turn them a profit.

The Computex show that ended at the weekend has illustrated just how delicate this arrangement is - with differences over pricing, promotion and the ecosystem that will be needed to support this new chapter in Windows' history.

"Is this going to be a major resurrection? Well, at least it'll help stop tablets from cannibalizing the PC laptop sector," said Jonah Cheng, an analyst with UBS.

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