Windows Phone "selling like hotcakes" - Intel chip speculation

Even though Microsoft wasn’t exhibiting at CES this year, doesn’t mean they haven’t been present. From Steven Ballmer taking to the stage at the Qualcomm keynote to some surprise Xbox 360 demos, it’s been busy.

The folks at Computer World caught up with Greg Sullivan. senior product manager for Windows Phone. Seems Greg was eager to share the good news about Windows Phone sales in China and also led some to speculate on a Windows Phone in the pipeline that uses an Intel CPU.

Selling like hotcakes!

Selling like hotcakes!

During the interview Greg was keen to point out that currently sales of Windows Phone in China are very strong, his exact words are said to be “Selling like hotcakes”. We have reported on the sales of Lumia devices in China over the last few weeks, the Nokia store has twice ran dry of devices shortly after opening.

China has been a clear focus of attention for Nokia who were quick to point out that the market in the country constitutes a huge opportunity for them. Hearing Greg confirm high sales is good news for the platform as it enters a new market. Sullivan was also keen to point out that there is now building support for Windows Phone, saying this:

"There's sales momentum, carrier momentum, and app momentum, with 125,000 apps. With Windows Phone 8, we're in this for the long haul. We used to think about Windows as software on a PC, but it's also on the server and in the cloud and in Skybox and other services even Xbox. Windows is not only Windows and Windows Phone. It's across all parts of Microsoft.”

An Intel Based Windows Phone?

Sullivan was asked during the interview about the prospects of making a Windows Phone based on the Intel platform. He fuelled some degree of speculation by saying “We have nothing to announce at this time” but does go on to state the following..

"Our architecture is such that it's hardware independent. For the same reason that Windows 8 [tablets] could run on 'Wintel', right now Windows Phone is on Qualcomm. We have a portable OS architecture." 

Quite why this has fuelled so much speculation is odd, Microsoft have just finished engineering Windows Phone to run on the same core technologies as Windows 8. The NT Kernel has long been adaptable to various different underlying platforms and his statement about the OS being more portable is spot on. The question that should be asked is why there is any need to produce devices based on Intel chips rather than ARM.

Intel pulled out of the low power, mobile chip race long ago and has been clamouring to get back into the game in the last few years. ARM devices still represent a better option for power and efficiency in mobile devices. That of course could change and if Intel decides to make their mobile offerings significantly cheaper than ARM alternatives and this could open the door for cheaper handsets.

The platform on which Windows Phone now runs is far more portable and flexible that the previous generation. Doesn’t mean there is any pressing need to move to Intel just because they can, there has to be a good reason.

We’d like to know what you think of the prospects of an Intel based Windows Phone and the positive news about sales. Let us know in the comments below.

Source: ComputerWorld

  • It's always nice to hear that Windows Phones are selling well. :)
  • I totally agree!
  • Chris Weber says AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to get High-end, Mid-range and Low-end devices in 2013.
  • China should be the number one focus for windows phone as it will be the dominant market.
  • They screwed up by not creating a scaled version of windows phone 8 and replace RT
  • I don't know if I'd say they "screwed up", but if you look at that plus NT's history, it's clearly doesn't just magically run on a different chipset, as they are kind of implying.
  • Don't think so, on RT you can do "advanced" tasks like deleting PDF's and editing forwarded emails, and tou have dull Office, if it was running WP8 it would be a full scale disaster.
  • i agree, i have the Surface RT and it has served me very well, heck you can decompress pretty much any kind of compressed files now too (zip, rar, etc...) had they scaled up the phone offering, then it would be a real disaster
  • RT isn't quite as nice on tablets as WP is on phones, but it's a lot better than WP would be on a tablet.
  • In 3 years I'll be able to run Visual Studio on an Intel Surface Phone. Take it to work, drop it on the charging pad, and it will connect to the 27" touch screen monitor and use Wifi AC encrypted to connect to the local network and corporate app store.
  • 3 years is to soon. Maybe 6, but most likely 8 to 10 years. Corporations move at a slow pace.
  • Appears Rich was right! 950XL with Continuum works like a charm.
  • oh man, i wish that would happen, not sure about the chances though... so much easier on my back that way
  • In 3 years I'll be able to run Every single App (since W3.11, Virtualized Android, etc.) on an Intel Surface ‘Kinnected TOUCHLESS’ Phone. Take it to work, drop it on the charging pad or keep it in my pocket, and it will connect to the 27" ‘Kinnected TOUCHLESS’ screen monitor and use Wifi AC encrypted to connect to the local network and corporate app store…
  • This Is nice to hear
  • Its always good to know Microsoft is selling well.. Microsoft was based on softwares and they are amazing in it. Looking back at MS histroy, Bill gates focused on software, makes MS the best in it,  were as for Steve jobs (RIP) he focused on  Designing the software (i hope im not wrong). Anyways, my point is, MS should have the best plateforms and i hope the Market share grows up and all the bugs on MS be fixed. 
    Intel chips in WP8, it would be gr8 to see strong chips from Intel competing with ARM. I agree priceses will go down so it will be good news.
  • well bill gates understood the technical side of things, as he was a software programmer. There are even stories of bill gates working so late that he slept in his office. I think what jobs was, was a good marketer. if im not mistaken it was steve wozniak who did alot of the work on the technical end of stuff. I do agree with you microsofts software has always been relatively good for me.
  • Open. Yes, that's what Open Software platform is all about! Well done Microsoft. 
  • SkyBox?
  • That's what I was thinking!
  • Probably meant SkyDrive.  SkyDrive / Dropbox mash up!?
  • I also caught that haha. I wonder if that was a typo, or if he actually said that! 0_o   Skybox is actually kind of a catchy name lol.
  • Give us some solid sales data!!! Please anyone!! Ahhhhh! Ive been wanting to be like "i told you so" to all the doubters!! Lol
  • Lol
  • Nokia today released salesfigures for q4 2012. 4,4 million lumias sold. Stockprice is rising, 10% up right NOW. More news in soon.
  • I wish they would have blown Win Phone 8 up for the tablet.  I have a Sufrace and a Lumia 920 and if I buy an app on the phone for $.99 I have to turn around and buy it again for $4.99 on the tablet.  One thing I do like about iOS is if I buy it once I can use it anywhere my account is.
  • I thought the same thing when Microsoft Said Windows Phone 8 and Surface Tablet 8~! I guess I'll enjoy using just my iPad3 a little longer then! I would have also thought the Windows phone was built with the same OS scaled down... Such a shame! I do like my Lumia 920 just I hate re-purchasing the same app as well...
  • I half agree.  I like Microsofts strategy of bringing W8 down to tablet, rather than WP8 up to tablet.  But yeah, its bull shit that I have to buy Angry Birds twice.  I think they could easily solve this by implementing some sort of emulator for WP8 into WinRT.  I mean heck, they already have the phone emulator for Visual Studio, so it can't be that hard.  Thing is, when I say emulator, I don't mean a seperate phone window like with VS, that would confuse users.  I just mean running phone apps in an emulated VM that is still full screen and seamless to the user.
  • Well, if I buy an app on my Surface, I can also run it on my full WIndows 8 PC. You can't do that with iOS and MacOS, so there's a trade-off unless there is one OS across all devices, whcih is where MS is headed.
  • We want instagram please and decent Skype app that all I need now
  • Instagram just destroy the great camera of L920.i use apps to make it sharp and clear not put a filter to make it looks like 70s.:-)
  • 4.4 million Lumia sales in Q4. That's partially helpful to guage the success.
  • Yes, less than the iPhone in one single weekend. Truly impressive. Btw, to add insult to injury - that's just an 52% increase over Q3 (2.9 million units sold).
  • considering that this time around they doubled sales id say thats a premise to assume that people are becoming more aware of that line of products.
  • I get your first part, but how does your last part "add insult to injury"? 52% increase is a good thing. Expectations need to be tempered. Obviously I don't see Nokia surpassing Apple anytime soon. But they don't need to. Nokia just needs to return to profitability. Try to remember that when they were profitable and king of smartphones, the smartphone market was pretty small. Its now a really big pie, so even a small piece of it can be enough to keep Nokia running. And in the end, that is what I care about, that Windows Phone OEM's make enough profit to justify churning out more devices for us. Looking at it from the other side, Macs have never come close to PC market-share. But they make plenty of profit and their fans get to enjoy new models every year. Of coarse that analogy isn't perfect because Apple is the only company with sheep followers that are willing to pay three times as much for the same hardware as a PC. But you get my point. We don't need Nokia to beat Apple, we just need them to return to profitability.
  • +1
  • Two things: First, let's get some perspective here. Nokia shipped 4 million Lumia smartphones in Q2 2012. Almost the same as in Q4 - the holiday season. Still think that is a solid number? Second: You are forgetting the fact that the Lumia sales are combined - these are not the high-end numbers - these are all the Lumia models, including the low and mid-end. Times have changed - it's all about the smartphones now, it's all that matters. Dumbphones will be dead soon. And the margins are in the high-end and right now that's not where Nokia is at.
  • It doesn't matter about individual models we all know its all Lumia devices relax dude and chill out this is good news anyway
  • Dumb phones will never be dead. Alot of people actually don't care about that. I know many people with flip phones and find Smartphones very unnecessary. That's their opinion but dumb phones will never die. There are all kinds of different people who only want to make phone calls. Heck my dad doesn't even text, its really annoying. But that's the market. Nokia and Samsung sell millions of dumbphones each year.
  • Steve Balls doesn't know what he is talking about. He doesn't know that between Q2 and Q4 Nokia became a smaller company by selling off two of its factories as well as its headquarters. So they could afford less components and could only make fewer smartphones in the first place. Second, they made smartphones with a new OS that is slowly gaining traction with a phone on one carrier. That is why there is a difference along with the fact you might just be pulling numbers out of your ass.
  • Intel chips would probably be a x86 processor. The "Clovertrail" Z2760 Atom SoC processor from Intel has already been tested in various phone prototypes. Its 1.8 GHz dual core w/ HT although it doesn't have the SSE4a support and its NOT an out-of-order processor. I would love an x86 processor in my phone for use of x86 programs. Although I'd rather have a AMD instead. But overall I'd would want more battery life advantage of ARM over x86 right now.
  • The so-called ARM battery advantage is a myth.
  • +1, I am about to post this. If Intel wants to concentrate on increasing power efficiency, they can. ARM has no monopoly in design engineers who know how to design for power. On top of that, Intel's advantage is in manufacturing technology. Intel has introduced the 22nm process that'll help them in the power consumption area.
  • did he just said skybox?
  • They don't even have time to put custom message tones in WP8, so how are they gonna buy the time to port to x86? I would love to see Intel powered Windows phones though, we don't want intel to build something amazing that we can't have. I wonder how that would affect the apps and how much work it would be for the developers.
  • The good news is that MS doesn't have to port the NT kernel to x86. They had to port it to ARM for WP8 and Win RT which was apparently quite feasible since both are on the market. The NT kernel has been running on x86 since day one.
    This wouldn't affect apps or developers at all. There are multiple abstration layers between the hardward, OS, and application layers. The apps don't know what hardware they are running on. It's no different than a Windows 8 Store app today that can be run on Windows 8 (x86) or Windows RT (ARM). More info here if you are interested...
  • Nice, thanks!
  • I could see an Intel powered 7" RT tablet with phone functionality for Skype or conferencing happening.
  • If we had full windows 7 on our wp8 then android would disappear and so would apple in the phone market
  • You obviously haven't tried to use a desktop operating system on a small touch device. Its a disaster.
  • You clearly haven't seen the phones that come out of China running W7 then. Awful stuff. Why would you even think that would be what people want in their phones?
  • I agree that a phone running full Windows would be cool and might even be feasible in a few years, but Windows 7 is not a good choice since it is not optimized for touch at all.  The whole reason that MS added the touch interface side to Windows 8 is so that it can be used from the desktop level all the way down to the tablet level.  Someday, when the right hardware exists, it could work at the phone level as well with some fairly minor tweaks. 
  • Just heard from the verge that nokia had sold 4.4 milion phones.
  • ARM is not more power efficient than x86:
  • Given the rampant piracy problems in China, it surprises me to see WP doing so well there. App piracy is so easy in iOS and Android that you'd think that would be the platform of choice for most Chinese. I suppose "selling like hotcakes" is relative though. 
  • An Intel powered Surface phone could be awesome!
  • I think it is fairly obvious that at some point Microsoft is planning to, at some point in the future, fully merge Windows/Windows RT with Windows Phone. From an ease of developement standpoint, having all devices run on the same archetecture is definately the best choice. While Intel has little presence in the power-efficient mobile market, ARM has even less in the high powered desktop market. Also, Intel has put foward a couple of functional smartphones, for one. With the newest Intel chips promising to be truely competitive with ARM in the mobile space, I forsee Microsoft jumping onto the Intel bandwagon for all of its product lines.
  • This is my opinion, but anybody that says "selling hotcakes", "blows out of the water", "the screen is GORGEOUS", "snappy" I can't take seriously.  Sure they could be selling better, but come on now.  Those are the cliche phrases that clearly point to overexaggeration. 
  • Someone needs to read the set of articles on Anandtech about the myth of x86 power consumption. Intel's current Medfield chips are not only capable of matching and beating todays best ARM SoCs in performance, but it's also capable of beating or matching them in battery life. And this is with a largely unchanged, 5 year old CPU architecture that doesn't even have out-of-order execution yet. Why should we want Windows Phone running on future Atom based x86 SoCs? Because they will dominate when Intel introduces the new Atom chips in the next 12 months that are built at 22nm, have more powerful GPUs, and add out-of-order execution.
  • Intel in a WP8 handset? Bring it!
  • The intel chips would be very cool if they did offer something like that Fujitsu phone and allow us to run WP8 and Windows 8, its very possible and swapping the phone from being just the phone to being your portable PC (by plugging it into a cradle) to connect it to a proper screen, mouse and keyboard would really be cool.
    As a hardware concept I could see that phone killing off the competition (or alternatively the competition has to end up being just the phone OS.
    The alternative of having the phone OS driving everything is possible, but not with the current ways of doing things, desktop and mobile is still a long way apart.
  • "The question that should be asked is why there is any need to produce devices based on Intel chips rather than ARM."
    Because Intel v ARM war is almost upon us. The age old bias against power consumption myth against x86 has been shattered in recent years. Atom Z2760 compares very favorably to most of ARM SoCs prior to Krait, and offered performance which was better or competitive in most cases, and that too on the older manufacturing process.  For example, I remember reading a recent AnandTech article showing that Atom Z2760 easily beating even Krait in the total SoC task energy utilization measurement.
    When an almost five year old architecture of Intel can beat most of ARM SoCs and fare reasonably against the most latest ones, it tells one thing, there is huge performance potential just need to be unleashed.
    Fast forward to Haswell, and its =<8W SoC, and you get the picture. Couple that with recent leaks showing that its GT3 graphics easily matching nVidia’s 650M GPU, and the picture start to look whole lot different for future. In fact <8W Haswell, I simply see no reason to waste my money on an ARM SoC with much weaker CPU for a tablet, hence, the case for Surface Pro could become even more stronger.
    Also keep in mind that, there is such a huge x86 code base out there, so Intel only needs to be competitive at best (in other words in this case just good enough), and with Windows Phone sharing same OS core as desktop windows, rest will take care of itself.
    I'd like to add conclusion Anand reached (which seems very much possible now):
    "Atom's power curve looks a lot like Qualcomm's, and I suspect a lot like Apple's. There are performance/power tradeoffs that all three make, but they're all being designed the way they should.
    Under a CPU or GPU heavy workload, the Exynos 5 Dual will draw around 4W. Peak TDP however is closer to 8W. If you remember back to IDF, Intel specifically called out 8W as a potential design target for Haswell. In reality, I expect that we'll see Haswell parts even lower power than that. While it may still be a stretch to bring Haswell down to 4W, it's very clear to me that Intel sees this as a possiblity in the near term. Perhaps not at 22nm, but definitely at 14nm. We already know Core can hit below 8W at 22nm, if it can get down to around 4W then that opens up a whole new class of form factors to a traditionally high-end architecture.
    Intel's existing architecture remains performance and power competitive with the best Qualcomm has to offer today. Both Intel and Qualcomm have architecture updates planned in the not too distant future (with Qualcomm out of the gate first), so this will be one interesting battle to watch. If ARM is the new AMD, then Krait is the new Athlon 64. The difference is, this time, Intel isn't shipping a Pentium 4."