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Microsoft kicks Compaq's Alpha in teeth

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Microsoft is advising corporate IT buyers that choosing the Alpha microprocessor as a future platform is a risky business. But, at the same time, some elements of Microsoft also appear to be blissfully unaware that Compaq kicked it in the teeth last year when it said that it would no longer support NT or Windows 2000 on the fast Alpha microprocessor. At a Microsoft Web page for IT managers considering which microprocessor should be adopted to support Windows 2000, the firm, quoting a book by Sean Deuby about Windows 2000 server, says that the MIPs platform and the PowerPC platform were the victim of market forces. The document claims that only leaves x86 chips and Alpha chips as platforms for NT and its variants. It advises: "The commercial point to consider when choosing a server architecture is Alpha's uncertain future. Since the merger of Compaq and Digital, strategic support of the Alpha hasn't been a sure thing by any means. Compaq has begun marketing Alpha machines under the Compaq brand, but a small market share translates into a smaller number of software vendors with applications that are Alpha-compatible and, more importantly, peripherals that have Alpha drivers beyond what's in the base OS media distributed by Microsoft." Last year, as exclusively revealed here, Compaq took the decision to dump both NT and Win64 for the Alpha platform, but the jury is still out as to the degree of the firm's commitment to the alternative microprocessor, given the conflicting messages it has expressed to the world. There does, indeed, appear to be something of a continuing tussle within Compaq over the Alpha platform, despite the fact that its Wildfire clustering platform is out next month. According to a recent edition of Shannon knows Compaq, the firm has failed to clock as high as was anticipated. Editor Terry Shannon said: "During a 12-month period that saw Alpha clock speeds increase by approximately 100 MHz, IA-32 speeds increased by around 400 MHz, or four times as much as Alpha." Shannon also points out that higher Alpha processor speeds from API, which were to have appeared by now, have still failed to make an appearance. Samsung, he claims, is concentrating on bringing CMOS 8-based EV68 Alpha parts to market, and that these will become available at 833MHz initially. Systems won't be available until much later this year. And 1GHz IBM Alphas using copper interconnects will not see the light of day until the middle of 2001, according to Shannon. We reported that until late last year, Microsoft was continuing to make builds of Win2000 for the Alpha platform internally, possibly as an in-house exercise. So we can't help feeling that the Microsoft document, which you can find here is not as out of date as you might think, but could represent some bitterness in Redmond at Compaq's decision to stick with flavours of Unix and OpenVMS for the poor old Alpha. ® See also this long litany An Omega for Alpha Big Q terribly coy about Alpha Risc vendors have Rubicon to cross Compaq's Cappellas thinks W2k key to future growth NT for Alpha still a goer Alpha NT could rise from the dead Big Q claims Alpha trashes Itanium-Merced Compaq avoids IA-64 question in Alpha push The inside story on Alpha and NT 500 Alpha NT jobs to go at Compaq Compaq responds to Register Alpha stories

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