ARM and Microsoft: a romance is on the cards -

IT Celebrity gossip columns are all talking about how Steve Ballmer has been seen at all the fashionable places locked in "intense discussions" with the mobile chip designer ARM.

Friends of the pair suggest the two are more than just good friends and might be preparing to make an announcement soon.

ARM's Taiwan president Philip Lu has confirmed to kiss and tell rag Digitimes that his outfit has been co-operating with Microsoft to develop processor architectures.

Many thought that Ballmer's overtures to ARM were simply a rebound from his long and deep marriage to Intel. Arm and Intel never got on and have even fought in public and it was felt that Ballmer was just trying to get back at Chipzilla by wining and dining ARM.

However Digitimes seems to think that Ballmer is using ARM to gain access to the smartphone, tablet PCs and other types of hand-held devices set. Ballmer has never got invited to any mobile parties and this has been making him mad.

It is not that ARM needs Ballmer. It is friendly with a lot of chip makers. It has been putting its latest Cortex A15 patents about lately. Samsung, Texas Instruments and ST-Ericsson all have ARM products expected to be launched in late 2011 or early 2012.

In fact getting Ballmer into the Mobile Party is probably only of interest to Ballmer. It remains to be seen what ARM hopes to get out of it. The most Ballmer can do is produce mobile gear with ARM chips in it, if no one buys, then both ARM and Ballmer look foolish.

This makes people wonder if ARM is also getting something out of any partnership. While ARM is big on the Mobile Scene, no one in the Server Party has ever heard of it. Ballmer, on the other hand, is rumoured to have a bulky dossier and knows how to use it. ARM could be hanging out for an invite to one of those sorts of parties.