Experts have slammed Microsoft's NT as unable to meet the demands of Intel's Merced chip in the enterprise arena, forcing Intel to look for other operating system partners. With Merced, the 64-bit mega chip due to debut in 1999, Intel is hoping to create a processor that appeals not only to the Windows market, but to any large company needing powerful solutions on an Intel system, regardless of the OS. But Lynley Gwennap, editor of the Microprocessor Report in the US, predicts tense times for the Microsoft/Intel alliance. "NT simply isn't good enough to satisfy all the markets Merced is aimed at, hence all the Unix vendors are getting excited about 1999," he said. At the same time, Microsoft and Digital are working on the 64-bit version of Windows NT, which will be tuned for Digital's Alpha processors as well as Merced. The separation of Wintel is causing some confusion. "They've always been together, on the desktop and in the enterprise," commented Rupert Jawl, IT manager at Scenic Hardware in London. "What happens if the Alpha implementation of NT is better than the Merced version? Then the proverbial will really hit the fan." A spokeswoman for Intel said: "We've always worked towards our own goals and ambitions and for the most part we've complemented one another. But we're not joined at the hip. Look at our lean clients, which use either Java, Windows or Citrix." Carl Stork, Microsoft's general manager for Windows, was unmoved by Intel's new open plan. "We cooperate in tons of areas but have always pursued our own business objectives and we think Intel should go after as many OS designs as they can, and we want the broadest set of hardware support for our operating system." Even if that means Intel collaborating with Microsoft's enemies. Gwennap added: "Microsoft isn't that strong in the enterprise arena, so what is Intel to do? The bottom line is that Intel is entering an arena where there is far more choice of operating system and those operating systems do a better job than NT."
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