How the times are changing: Clover Trail is ditching Linux.
At the Fall IDF, Intel told journalists that the Clover Trail Atom processor will not be supporting Linux. Clover Trail is a variant of Atom that is designed to compete with a wave of ARM processors for the sub-compact space and Windows RT devices. Clover Trail will be the x86's camp strongest proponent in this space and Intel is doing everything it can to build a compelling case.
Clover Trail will be supporting all Windows 8 features and enables Windows 8 to keep tight control over the CPU's power management features - and there are features that apparently are a concession to Microsoft and will only be opened to Windows 8, including an always-on functionality. With plenty of ARM processor designers entering Intel's home turf, it is probably a good idea for Intel to show Microsoft just how important the segment is for Intel.
That, of course, is a far cry from the beginnings of Atom. Some readers may remember that Atom was introduced as a processor that happened to run Windows as well, while the clear focus was on Linux. Back in early 2006, Intel heavily pitched Linux for Atom in the flavors of a version of Moblin Linux that Intel worked on itself, as well as Asianux, which included Red Flag Linux, Miracle Linux and HannSoft. Back then, Atom's focus was on mobile Internet devices and the expectation that the market would favor Linux over a Windows Vista with outrageous hardware requirements that were only met by the highest performing Atom at the time. Initial MID prototypes were also shown running with Ubuntu Linux.
On the bright side for Linux, most other Atom SoCs that are shown by Intel today are usually still focused on Linux and derivatives, such as Android.