Microsoft has axed its Fortran Powerstation tool as part of a deal with close ally Digital Equipment, which will now license Microsoft Developer Studio. The deal is likely to herald a wider agreement under which the partners will pool resources to concentrate on their areas of strength in software tools.
Digital will develop a version of its Visual Fortran 5.0 for the Studio environment, which will replace the Microsoft product. Both partners will sell and market the new tool from next month and upgrade packs will be offered not just to Powerstation users but people using PC Fortran compilers from any vendor.
This is one step in a strategy for the two companies to split their tools efforts along market lines, as part of their 18-month-old Alliance for Enterprise Computing. Digital will focus on developing compilers and other products for its heartland in the high end scientific sector, while Microsoft will move away from scientific programming languages and concentrate on products for corporates and ISVs.
One Digital source said: "It makes sense for us each to concentrate on what we know best. I'm not saying Digital would move away from corporate tools altogether but this agreement is sure to broaden out."
Paul Gross, vice president of developer tools at Microsoft, commented: "Digital's reputation as a leader in quality Fortran compilers, along with its global distribution capabilities and strong technology alliance with Microsoft, was key to our decision." He claimed Fortran Powerstation users would be given an upgrade path to Visual Fortran and Microsoft would continue to support them until 1 April 1998. However, support will be paid for after 1 October this year.
An upgrade kit, costing $360 in the US, will be available not only to Powerstation users but to users of any PC-based Fortran product until 31 August. Digital will also ship a professional edition of its compiler later this year.
Visual Fortran will be fully compatible with other tools in the visual Developer Studio environment by next month and Digital will work to bring other scientific products into the fold.
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