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A year ago: Mips had its chips as Compaq-Tandem flips

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If you cast your eyes back over previous issues of The Register, in particular No. 5, you will see that we were sat next to Eckhard Pfeiffer when he made his attack on our old mate Hans Geyer. (Now in Folsom, passim). We got a world exclusive for that story and unlike Alan Cane, who now writes comms stories for the Financial Times, we were sat next to Eckhard and even in the same room. That gave us the chance to glance at his notes as Hans was speaking where he made a list of the chip players in the industry and their respective market shares. On that list was Mips, Alpha, x86, PA Risc and Sun Sparc. So when The Register found itself for the second time in one day at the gruesome Landmark Hotel in Marylebone Road we were well armed with questions for one Brad Anderson, a strategic marketing manager for Compaq in the US. He was there, he explained, because his boss Mary had had to go to Maynard following the Digital-Compaq deal. He said: "I don't usually talk to the press" - a comment that made your staffer rub his mental hands with glee. We were indeed well briefed. The deal between Digital and Compaq had completely overshadowed the original reason for Eckhard being in town, which was to persuade the corporate world and its canine companion that the disappearance of the Tandem CS series was not a disaster - no far from it indeed. Indeed, the disappearance of the Tandem CS for some members of the Compaq ProLiant family was a positive boon to every card carrying corporation, claimed Anderson. ProLoteriats had more functionality and were cheaper, he said. Then followed an interesting conversation about the future of the rest of the Tandem line (upwards). So was the Mips platform for the Tandem family to disappear? Anderson said it was not industry standard chip architecture. We attempted to explain to Brad that usually when Compaq used the phrase industry standard it meant Wintel. Was, then, the Alpha chip industry standard. "It's more industry standard than Mips," he said. We left that subject there and moved on to clustering and in particular to the very famous fact that Tandem, before Eckhard grabbed it last year, had licensed its stuff to Microsoft for Wolfpack. What could this mean, we asked. Anderson claimed it meant little or nothing but did concede in passing that the original purpose of the trip, the E2000 announcement of scaleable stuff, was somewhat thrown into disarray by the Digital Compaq deal. Not to be unkind to Compaq, we suggested, did it not in fact mean that the whole carefully thought out marketing E2000 plan was now in total disarray. He could not go so far as to agree with that. Yet it is a fact that Compaq had better get its act together and quick to integrate Dec server offerings with Tandem and Compaq offerings, otherwise it stands to lose the confidence of all those people it loves and needs so much in the end user community. ®

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