Customers should evaluate processor platforms other than Mips, said Microsoft, as it killed further development of software for the Mips Risc architecture.
Microsoft put the final nail in the coffin for business users of systems based on Mips' Risc processors, by announcing that Mips users of Windows NT, Microsoft Back Office and other tools, will continue to be supported by Microsoft but will get no new releases.
Mark Hassall, Windows NT server product manager at Microsoft UK, said: "The reasons were driven by decreasing demand from customers and OEMs. We were committed to Mips Risc for the last five years. I would say to customers who are evaluating new hardware that they should evaluate other platforms running Windows NT."
The Mips processor was hailed as a viable competitor to Intel and was taken on by Siemens-Nixdorf, NEC and Tandem among others. However, it failed to sustain popularity in the face of Intel?s Pentium processor and Digital?s Alpha chip.
The beginning of the end was when NEC stopped selling Mips R4000-based NT servers in the US in favour of Intel-based systems earlier this year. Graeme Simons, European marketing manager for the NEC division of Packard Bell NEC, said: "Mips used to be quite a standard processor for servers but any manufacturer worth its salt has gone back to Intel." Mips-based NEC servers were not sold in Europe.
Similarly, last year Tandem decided against developing Mips-based NT servers because of the low penetration Mips has in the server market. Said Dave Russell, product marketing manager at Tandem: "We found that of the Windows NT server installed base, 95 per cent was Intel-based, four per cent was Digital Alpha and the remaining one per cent split between Mips and PowerPC. That?s why we made the switch to Intel."
The only other well-known business systems vendor that offers NT running on Mips Risc chips is Pyramid, now part of Siemens-Nixdorf. However, none of its customers in the UK have taken up the option of running NT on Mips, explained Ian Stewart, product manager at Pyramid. The company said in future it would promote NT on Intel as part of Siemens-Nixdorf?s Open Enterprise Computing programme.
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