For many years, the market for personal computing equipment was dominated by the Wintel "duopoly." But no more. In practice, Wintel wasn't so much two companies scheming together as it was a marriage of convenience pairing two dominant technologies: Microsoft's Windows operating system and Intel's x86 processor family.
It wasn't an exclusive relationship. Microsoft always had Advanced Micro Devices and flirted with chip designs such as MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC in the early days of Windows NT. And Intel encouraged other operating systems, notably Linux. But the marriage stayed largely intact as the two product families yielded much of the PC industry's profit, and the companies' fortunes remain closely linked today.
But now the companies are eager to grow beyond Wintel. Two major conferences this week--Microsoft's Build for showcasing Windows 8 and the hardware-focused Intel Developer Forum--show just how important the effort is. Microsoft and Intel, which as allies haven't made so much as a blip in the mobile device market, are trying to become relevant there through partnerships with companies that already have a mobile presence.