Microsoft is pulling the plug on further development of Windows NT for the PowerPC platform, citing low demand.
Although some analysts took this to be a blow by Microsoft against Apple's PowerPC-based range, others said Microsoft had no choice once Apple's partners in the PowerPC consortium, IBM and Motorola, decided not to support NT last year. At the time, this decision took Microsoft by surprise.
This latest knockback for PowerPC had been widely rumoured for some time, but on Friday it was officially confirmed when Microsoft issued a statement saying it planned to focus its NT development efforts on the Intel and Digital Alpha platforms. Users running NT 4.0 on the PowerPC architecture will continue to be supported.
The software giant pointed to a decreasing demand for PowerPC systems to justify its move, admitting that it was following a lead already taken by PowerPC consortium founders IBM and Motorola when they decided to phase out systems running NT on PowerPC. The Microsoft withdrawal mirrors its decision last year to cease NT development for the Mips processor.
The third PowerPC consortium founder, Apple, claimed it was not unduly worried by the Microsoft move. "NT on the PowerPC has not been a major effort at Apple for some time," said Jim Gable, vice president of marketing at its Applesoft division.
It has been rumoured in recent weeks that Apple is considering licensing NT as part of its technology overhaul. Apple chief executive Gil Amelio made no efforts to dismiss such speculation during a meeting with shareholders last week.
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