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64-bit Alpha on NT Dead, Too

Compaq Computer Corp. officially notified Microsoft Corp. late yesterday that it was killing support for 64-bit Windows 2000 on Alpha, and Microsoft Corp. won’t keep development for its last remaining non-Intel Windows NT platform on life support in Redmond.

Earlier in the week, Compaq officials said they would end support and development for 32-bit Windows NT/2000 on Alpha after the release of Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6 (SP6). At the time, Compaq spokesman Steve Milmore was vague about how last week's decision to close the former DECwest facility in Bellevue, Wash., and how the layoffs and reassignments of about 100 engineers who worked on Windows NT-Alpha would affect 64-bit Windows 2000. Milmore said development of 64-bit Windows 2000 would continue on Alpha.

Alpha systems use a 64-bit processor. Microsoft has said previously that it won’t deliver a 64-bit version of Windows 2000 until Intel Corp.’s first 64-bit processor, code-named Merced, ships in mid-2000.

Today, Compaq went from vague to clear on its plans for 64-bit Windows 2000. "Compaq has decided to focus all Windows NT efforts on its Intel-based ProLiant platform," the company said in a statement. "Compaq will end systems development for all 32-bit and 64-bit Windows NT products on Alpha … in late 1999."

Microsoft immediately squashed any hopes among Alpha users and industry observers that it would assume support for the platform.

"There will be no future releases of Microsoft products for the 32-bit or 64-bit Alpha platform," Microsoft said in a statement sent to reporters today. "This means there will not be 32-bit Alpha versions of Windows 2000, beginning with Release Candidate 2, nor will there be new 32-bit Alpha releases of SQL Server, Exchange, or other 32-bit Alpha BackOffice products."

Microsoft vowed to support current Windows NT on Alpha customers with technical support, service pack and hotfix support for Windows NT 4.0 and existing versions of BackOffice 32-bit Alpha products.

Compaq and Microsoft officials both encourage Alpha customers to move to the Windows NT on Intel platform in light of the pending shipments of more scalable 8-way systems built on Intel’s Profusion chipset.

Compaq’s ongoing role in the development of 64-bit Windows 2000 is unclear.

In its statement, Compaq said: "Compaq is going to continue to partner with Microsoft on the development of 64-bit Windows NT."

An e-mail message accompanying Microsoft’s official statement mentioned that Microsoft was making strides toward 64-bit Windows through its partnership with Intel. The statement did not single out Compaq as special among OEMs moving forward in 64-bit Windows development: "Compaq, as well as our other OEM partners, will continue to work with us to deliver a 64-bit version of Windows for our enterprise customers based on the IA64 architecture." -- Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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