Digital has revealed to PC Week that the next incarnation of Windows NT, version 5.0 for the Digital Alpha, will be a 64-bit operating system which will be available on the Alpha chip before it is available on Intel processors.
David Cousins, Digital's Alpha Server marketing manager, said: "By late summer this year we will have three 64-bit operating systems - Digital Unix, Open VMS and NT."
Cousins said the fact that NT 5.0 is being developed on Alpha is a real boost for the company in that Digital gains a window of two to three years before Intel's 64-bit Merced processor arrives. "Applications are being developed on the Alpha as we speak," he confirmed.
Commenting on the Bull, IBM and Motorola dominated PowerPC consortium's decision to abandon support for future versions of Windows NT, Cousins said: "This opens up an opportunity for us. NT 5.0 is a 64-bit OS and the PowerPC architecture does not currently support 64-bits." The 64-bit PowerPC processor will not be available until September or October, according to IBM.
Ian Mckenzie, Windows NT marketing manager at Digital, speaking on the success the company has had with the Alpha running NT, said: "We are consistently over-achieving our business goals. We are experiencing between 150% and 200% annual growth rates."
Alpha is fully endorsed by Microsoft and we offer a choice to customers, McKenzie added.
Mark Hassall, Microsoft's back office product manager confirmed to PC Week that Microsoft will providing support for 64-bit addressing (VLM) on NT Server 5.0 for Digital Alpha systems. However, he added that it will not offer all the benefits of a true 64-bit operating system such as better resilience and performance. "NT already has a 64-bit file system," he said.
In a report titled Windows NT Servers in Western Europe, IDC predicts that by the year 2000 over 24% of server revenues in Europe will be generated by Windows NT Server.
Martin Hingley, research director at IDC, said: "In our opinion NT is the strongest growing OS ever." However, IDC feels Digital has a battle on its hands. "If Intel's Merced is not considered a Risc chip then we won't see NT on Risc," Hingley warned.
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