Compaq confirmed today it has decided to kill all development of 64bit Windows for the Alpha platform, preferring a pure Intel strategy for its Microsoft operating system based products.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Compaq had decided to stop development of a version of 32bit Windows 2000 for Alpha, cutting 100 jobs in the process. (see Newswire 26 August, 1999)
Now Compaq has admitted it plans a pure Intel strategy for Microsoft operating systems, leaving Alpha to run its Tru64 Unix operating system. It will cease any development as soon as Microsoft releases Service Pack 6 for NT4 later this year.
Compaq had previously maintained that both the 32bit version of Windows 2000 and 64bit version of Windows 2000 would be ported to the Alpha platform. Alpha was used as the development processor for much of the 64bit Windows project, but it is unclear how well that has progressed.
Any drop in Microsoft's enthusiasm for the Alpha platform could well have influenced Compaq's decision, but Microsoft has insisted that it had no role in the demise of the Alpha variant of its Windows 2000 operating system.
"It was a Compaq decision," insisted David Weeks, Windows 2000 product manager at Microsoft, "they were seeing more and more customers asking for NT on Intel."
Microsoft originally aimed to make Windows a multi-platform operating system. Together with OEMs like Silicon Graphics and IBM it developed versions for MIPs and PowerPC, but canned both projects two years ago on the grounds that neither vendor could prove that the platforms would shift in sufficient volume.
"Windows on Power PC was technically possible, but it needed support from Microsoft and that was not forthcoming," an IBM insider told VNU Newswire.
Simon Cole, Alpha product manager at Compaq, described sales of Windows on Alpha as "disappointing".
"I thought the potential for NT on Alpha was greater than the success we had with it," Cole said.
Cole claimed that the decision ends the confusion between product lines NT on Alpha and NT on Intel. Compaq maintains that there is no comparison to be drawn with its plans to support its Tru64 Unix operating system on both Alpha and Intel's Merced platform.
Ironically whilst Microsoft Windows 2000 has become a single platform operating system, Intel is increasing its portfolio of supporting operating systems and fast severing its dependency on Microsoft.
"Merced [Intel's 64bit chip architecture] is on target for a mid 2000 launch. We are expecting Microsoft [with 64bit Windows 2000], with other operating system vendors to be ready," said Dave Hazel, director of Intel Northern Europe.
"We want to show NT and Unix support. We have to be operating system agnostic," he explained.
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