Growing up often results in loved ones going their separate ways. It's a natural thing most adults accept as character building. Things usually get complicated only when a situation is forced, when a partner is disloyal, or simply can't keep up with the needs of the other.
Imagine how Microsoft feels. Its long-term partner, the mighty Intel, has always been there for Gates and his clan but it now seems things are going wrong. The chip vendor has needs Microsoft simply cannot appease and, understandably, Intel has been shamelessly bed-hopping with all sorts to satisfy its growing OS lust.
The problem seems to centre around Microsoft's poor performance in the enterprise market. As reported last week, Intel's hardware is reaching for the stars and offerings like NT are only hitting the ceiling - according to "those-in-the-know", Intel has no choice but to get back on the market and see what's on offer. Of course, in this liberal environment, we're all for a bit of experimentation, but Microsoft has a lot to lose.
Merced, Intel's turbo-chip, is doing all the damage. Here's a chip that promises the world on a 64-bit cycle, so long as the operating system running on it is up to the job. According to the industry, NT isn't that software. So, Intel is having a look around, doing some courting and, no doubt, a bit of wheeling and dealing with Unix vendors who can't believe their luck.
As for Microsoft, no longer the darling of all things Intel, it must be a bitter pill to swallow. For at least a decade now the company that has purged the desktop market of creative competition is battling for credibility with NT in the 64-bit arena, while potential suitors for Merced are lining up, ready to tie the knot when the chip finally arrives in 1999.
Microsoft will, no doubt, be incredulous at the comments made last week by Lynley Gwennap, editor of the Microprocessor Report, who believes Microsoft's NT will leave the Merced processor wanting. "The bottom line is this chip will really be able to move and frankly Windows NT just isn't up to it." Even the so-called "Merced-ready" version of NT won't offer the chip all it needs because "it's made up of 32-bit code", says Gwennap.
Microsoft and Intel will of course stay best of buddies on the desktop but, in the enterprise arena, it seems Intel has no choice but to leave its partner and look for something a bit sexier and a bit more capable than the juvenile NT.
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