Intel this week launched a new program it hopes will spark the growth of a multiple developer communities around devices based on its low-power Atom processors which have become popular components of rapidly growing netbook PCs.
The company unveiled its Atom Developer Program at the annual Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco. The program provides a framework for creating applications for netbooks now, and handhelds and smart phones in the future. The company is also reaching out to developers of Moblin, Intel's new Linux distribution for netbooks and handhelf devices.
Devices based on the Atom processor run on Windows XP and are slated to support Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 7, as well as Moblin.
The new program will support developers working with a range of operating systems and run-time environments, said Renee James, general manager of IntelвЂ™s software and services group. Among those is MicrosoftвЂ™s Silverlight cross-platform browser plug-in. Silverlight 3 will be supported on Atom-Moblin devices early next year, James said.
вЂњThis collaboration [between Intel and Microsoft] delivers on SilverlightвЂ™s cross-platform, cross-browser, and cross-device promise by going beyond just the PC to allow developers to reach more endpoints for their applications and services,вЂќ the Microsoft Silverlight team said in a blog В posting today. Windows and Moblin-based operating environments will be the first supported on the Atom chips. Intel plans to add Java and Adobe AIR runtime support in the future.
Intel has established a site http://appdeveloper.intel.com for the new program, where developers are encouraged to sign up. Members currently have access to technical information and updates, as well as tools for creating components and applications. A downloadable preview of the SDK is available on the site.
Netbook makers Acer, Asus, and Dell will be among the vendors hosting their own Atom app stores, James said. вЂњWe envision a wide variety of OEM and service-provider storefronts, all taking advantage of these common application frameworks to bring a whole raft of new applications out to end-users,вЂќ said Intel chief executive Paul Otellini during his conference-opening keynote.
вЂњItвЂ™s a nice win for Intel,вЂќ said Michael Gartneberg,vice president of strategy and analysis at industry analyst firm Interpret, вЂњbecause they really need these relatively slow processors optimized for things like Silverlight. Netbook and hand-held users want to watch things like streaming media without stuttering or the like. For Microsoft, it allows the company to leverage Silverlight as netbook-friendly media technology.вЂќ
Still there was a mixed message coming out of Intel at the IDF this week, Gartenberg said. He pointed to Otellini's keynote where he talked about a вЂњcomputing continuumвЂќ that yields вЂњthe same experience on any device.вЂќ
But Otellini also declared that his company is evolving from personal computers to вЂњpersonal computing," Gartenberg said. вЂњOn the one hand, Intel is talking about the notion of mobile compatibility up and down their product line based on their architectures. And on the other, theyвЂ™re talking about netbook-specific applications that are aimed at the Atom processor. WeвЂ™ll have to see how that shakes out in the marketplace.вЂќ
Getting Silverlight to run on Moblin is noteworthy but a less significant component of the overall new development program, said Gartner analyst Eric Knipp said. вЂњSilverlight running on Moblin isnвЂ™t really a big deal because Flash already runs on it," he said. "I donвЂ™t think this is a differentiator.вЂќ
Intel has added Moblin because it complements their products, Knipp adds. вЂњThey want people to be able to buy cheap netbooks running Intel processors. This is something that Intel has done for years, and it will probably create more demand for their products.вЂќ
Although the new Atom developer program and IntelвЂ™s support for Silverlight on Atom-Moblin is focused primarily at ISVs, it applies to enterprise developers as well, said Gartenberg.
вЂњFor enterprises that are looking to develop internal line-of-business apps and are going to make Silverlight a part of that experience, they can now count on the Atom family of processors of being able to run those applications,вЂќ he said.
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