Preston Gralla

Intel CEO Otellini : Windows 8 is being released before it's ready...but that's OK

September 25, 2012 4:46 PM EDT

Intel CEO Paul Otellini told his employees in Taiwan that Windows 8 isn't truly fully ready to be shipped, but he still thinks Microsoft is making the right move to release it in late October. So reports Bloomberg. If true, it's a stunning admission.

According to a Bloomberg news story:

"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 today, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private."

Bloomberg notes that Otellini added that he thought that releasing Windows 8 before it was ready is still the right move, because Microsoft will be able to improve it after shipping.

Coming from what may be Microsoft's biggest partner, the admission is a stunning one, and certainly won't help sales of the operating system. Windows 8 may already face headwinds because it's been designed more for tablets than traditional PCs. An IDC report, for example, warns that Windows 8 is "a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms," and so could lead to continued slow PC sales. The report also warned that "The PC ecosystem faces some work to properly educate the market." It's not good news when a company has to "properly educate the market" about a product it's releasing.

Particularly surprising about Otellini statement is the implication that there may be bugs or other issues in Windows 8. His criticism wasn't aimed at the tablet-centric design, but instead about it simply working properly.

That surprises me because I've been using the RTM version for writing my book Windows 8 Hacks, and I haven't found those kinds of issues.

However, the Bloomberg report quotes Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP Securities writing in a research note on September 13:

"We are concerned at the level of bugs and fine tuning that appears necessary to get the beta systems we demoed ready for prime time."

Still, he was writing about beta, not RTM, and so some bugs are to be expected.

But Michael Cherry at Directions on Microsoft, echoed Gauna, when he told Bloomberg that he thought that there may be problems with drivers for Windows 8.

Otellini's criticism is ironic, considering that Microsoft essentially took a bullet for Intel in the Windows Vista "junk PC" fiasco. Vista required a certain level of graphics performance in order to run properly, and PCs which ran Intel's 915 chipset didn't meet that standard. So under pressure from Intel, Microsoft cooked up a "Vista Capable" marketing program in which it put "Vista capable" stickers on PCs with 915 chipsets, even though those PCs couldn't run Aero or other parts of Vista.

Windows executives were furious at the decision, because it would make Vista look bad. Microsoft executive Mike Ybarra said:

This kind of [s**t] drives me crazy, Chris. We have pushed UI in Vista so hard in the last 18 months and we get our OEMs to go with higher end chipsets and graphics parts on existing PCs to really drive the experience for consumers and at the last minute we cave to Intel and give 915 and other chipsets a backdoor into the programs.

Jim Allchin, who was in charge of Windows at the time, was even angrier and wrote in an email:

"I believe we are going to be misleading customers with the Capable program. OEMs will say a machine is Capable and customers will believe that it will run all the core Vista features. The fact that aero won't be there EVER for many of these machines is misleading to customers."

The end result of giving Intel what it wanted was horrendous publicity for Vista and a class-action suit against Microsoft.

And now Otellini is bad-mouthing Windows 8 before it's even released. You can be sure that more than a few expletives are being thrown his way at Microsoft today.