Re: Do Microsoft talk to Intel?
Intel has always been involved, if not strictly aggressive, in alternate operating systems. They worked on the BeOS port back in the 80s, they've been involved in numerous Linux projects, including at least some involvement in any number of Linux-based smartphone projects.
I don't suspect they actually need to talk to Microsoft all that much -- it's not as if the x86 is going anywhere in Windows land. And in fact, it's quite possible that Microsoft strong-arming (sic) the ARM with all the things they're forbidden doing on the x86 will only hurt ARM in the long run.
WinRT is certainly Microsoft's plan for phones and tablets, x86 or ARM, so "probably not" (WinRT being the API, Windows RT being the ARM-only product that still includes full WIn32 and WInRT APIs, but only allows Microsoft signed binaries access to the Win32 APIs). In fact, in MS's original plan, all Metro apps had to be WinRT only. They did ultimately ceed some ground here and allow developers on x86 to use both APIs, but they're still pushing for WinRT + Metro, since that's the only combination they're supporting on ARM.
The question about whether Windows Phone is a waste of time will probably not be answered soon. Microsoft took over ten years to become profitable in the gaming world, and they were willing to lose money longer than most companies in order to claim that established piece of a lucrative market (for Microsoft, it wasn't simply the gaming machine, but like many, they saw the games console as the basis for the "livingroom computer").
Intel doesn't get aggressive about these things... pretty much everything they do is just designed to sell chips. As it should be. Unless they radically depart from the past, they'll work to enable their stuff in these markets, and expect that the various phone or tablet companies will fall in line and use their chips. This will be the only time since maybe the peak of the RISC Workstation days, though, that Intel's entering a market (smartphones) as an underdog. That is, if the largest chip company on the planet can really be thought of as an underdog. But when you consider that most of the rest of the top 20 chip companies (Samsung, TI, Qualcomm, ST, nVidia, Freescale, NXP, etc) are aggressively using ARM, maybe it can.