Another frail branch of the PC industry died off last week, leaving the remaining branches stronger and healthier than ever.
Microsoft's decision to abandon work on future versions of NT for the PowerPC Risc architecture means it's curtains for the Common Hardware Reference Platform. It also further bolsters the increasingly dominant Wintel axis and limits the choice available to customers who aren't willing to blindly follow the other sheep.
Not that corporates were flocking to buy CHRP, PowerPC-based solutions, it has to be said. Of the original backers, Apple has other things on its mind - like survival - and IBM, Bull and Motorola have shown their enthusiasm and commitment by pre-empting Microsoft and halting work on NT for the PowerPC.
In the light of those developments, Microsoft's decision is unsurprising.
Late last month it said NT 5.0 will be available on Digital's 64-bit Alpha processor before Intel's architecture, so Microsoft can rightly claim it hasn't given up the ghost on Risc processing. Despite that, NT has evolved to become a very different creature to the cross-platform operating system Microsoft said it was going to be back at its launch in 1993.
Of the four architectures NT was intended to run on, two have fallen by the way side - MIPS and PowerPC. Intel and Alpha remain, the former going from strength to strength as its recent record quarterly results testify.
But the demise of CHRP shouldn't go unnoticed, whatever the reasons.
Like many ideas and technologies generated by our industry, it was fine in theory but flawed in practice. As recently as last summer, CHRP's backers were proudly demonstrating three different PowerPC-based machines, including a PowerMac, all of which were capable of running MacOS and AIX and NT.
Several months later, that's a distant memory. Our conclusion? Buy some Intel stock.
An Apple a day
In the unlikely event that some Californian hippy had been on a particularly long trip up his own self-consciousness for the past 12 years, only to regain his faculties last week, he'd find Apple Computer pretty much unchanged.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, co-founders of the proverbial set-up-in-a-garage-with-$100 company, are back on board as advisers to the executive committee with a remit to reverse its slide in fortunes. They've already made an impression, if the sideways moves of chief technology officer Ellen Hancock and chief operating officer Marco Landi last week are anything to go by.
Whether the Steves can bring back the halcyon days of the late 70s and early 80s is doubtful. But the romantics among us are keeping our fingers crossed.
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