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9/28/2006
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Q&A: Intel Senior VP Pat Gelsinger

Gelsinger, senior VP and general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group at Intel, talks about Intel's relationship and involvement with Apple, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Xen, Windows Vista, and system builders, among other topics.

CRN: Intel shared the stage at IDF with Apple. How will Intel's relationship with Apple evolve in 2007, or is the cooperation mostly finished?

GELSINGER: It's far from done. Let's take it in phases. First was the honeymoon, where we won Apple as a customer. The second phase was execution and getting products done and, third, we just finished that. The MacBook Pro was the last product. We just finished the birthing. We've just gotten that done, but a number of projects are under way with Apple on next-generation technologies -- but I can't detail those. Apple is very secretive, even to us. It's the nature of the company.

CRN: Has Microsoft expressed concern about the Intel-Apple pairing or frowned at your relationship with yet another new operating-system vendor besides Linux?

CRN: Well, certainly, of course. They look at it that way. But our response [to Microsoft] is that we have a customer that wants to use our silicon. Of course we support them. At the same time, I'd say our Microsoft relationship is as good if not better than it has been in our 20-year history.

CRN: Why?

GELSINGER: We both see that we might have border quibbles on a particular issue, but if the PC industry is not good for [Microsoft], then it's not good for us. That shared challenge and opportunity [for Intel and Microsoft] is significant. We have a mutual view of the business market [and grapple with issues like] what does it take to address security and management? We share common views of the next problems and hurdles to enable that. We have a common perspective on how to get to the next layer of growth.

CRN: Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, co-founder and chief software architect, announced earlier this year that he will step down from his day-to-day role at the company by July 2008. Given that you've worked with him directly for years, do you think his absence will affect Intel's relationship with Microsoft? And to what extent has Intel worked on the technical side with current Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie?

GELSINGER: Bill is innovative, brilliant, ruthless, aggressive, demanding and challenging. You can't take a figure like that and remove him from the company and not expect the company to be different or the relationship to be different. I meet with lots of industry execs, and I don't need to be briefed as well for any other as well as when I meet with Bill. He's smart, aggressive and does his homework.

Sometimes I show up for a meeting [with Gates], and he knows more about some aspects of my product than I do. He's a force. So you have to look at it and say, 'Wow, if he steps aside, Microsoft will change.' Everyone recognizes that, but at same time, Microsoft is much bigger than Bill. There are many brilliant people there, like CTO Craig Mundie. And I've known Ray [Ozzie] since Lotus and worked with him through the Notes days and have a great relationship with him. I just had dinner with him a few weeks ago. Ray is brilliant.

CRN: What did you talk about over dinner? Enabling software-as-a-service?

GELSINGER: Yes, that was certainly one of the topics, [as well as] Microsoft Live and Microsoft's data center visions for the future. Ray, as a practicing software developer, is probably the best in the world, and he is a very deep thinker with respect to many aspects of software and software architecture. But he's also a very congenial person. He doesn't have that incredible external intensity as Bill, so he's a different personality. He will be a tremendous person for Microsoft, and I look forward to working with him a lot more going forward.

NEXT: The impact of the Windows Vista launch and virtualization technology.

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