Talk about a sign of the times -- and a fork in the road. Microsoft is rallying Windows 8 developers at the BUILD conference in Anaheim, Calif. this week. Nearly 400 miles North, the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco focuses on data centers, PCs and the so-called Intel Ultrabook initiative. No doubt, Microsoft and Intel still work closely together. But their decision to host separate developer conferences in separate cities the very same week shows just how much the old Wintel relationship has evolved.

At BUILD, Microsoft is trying to rekindle the glory days. The company's promotional materials note:
"In 1995, Windows changed the PC. BUILD will show you that Windows 8 changes everything."
As Paul Thurrott notes, BUILD replaces Microsoft's older shows -- WinHEC (hardware) and PDC (software).  Thurrott claims "Windows 8 is going to blow us away." Hmmm... The VAR Guy will reserve judgment until Windows 8 actually ships. In the meantime, it's clear Microsoft will use BUILD as a launching pad to position Windows 8 as an ideal tablet and PC platform.

The Microsoft BUILD web site doesn't list any particular sponsors, but it's a safe bet Intel employees are among those in the crowd.

Meanwhile, Intel itself is hosting a major developer conference. At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) keynotes in San Francisco this week, CEO Paul Otellini will share his vision for the company; GM Mooly Eden will describe Intel's vision for so-called Ultrabooks; and VP Justin Rattner will share his thoughts on extreme-scale computing.

The Changing Face of Wintel

In some ways, the Microsoft and Intel developer strategies continue to overlap. In other ways, they have nothing in common. And in some instances, Microsoft and Intel will even compete.

A few examples:
  • The Microsoft Windows 8, server and cloud strategies depend heavily on Intel processors. But Microsoft apparently will give BUILD attendees an ARM-based Windows 8 tablet.
  • Microsoft is listed among the sponsors for Intel Developer Forum. No doubt, Intel wants to help scale and protect Windows cloud servers and Windows mobile devices. But increasingly, Linux is just as important to Intel's data center future.
  • Intel's buyout of McAfee essentially positions Intel against Microsoft's own security software team.
  • Both Microsoft and Intel are trying to deliver compelling technologies to counter Apple's iPad and iOS dominance. In Intel's case, the chip giant is investing $300 million into a so-called Intel Capital Ultrabook Fund.
Are Microsoft and Intel still partners? Absolutely yes. But the old Wintel dynasty is ancient history. The fact that Microsoft and Intel are marching forward at separate events in separate cities this week tells you everything you need to know.