Compaq to Halt NT on Alpha Development

  • Written By: R. Krause
  • Published: August 1 1999

Compaq to Halt NT on Alpha Development

Compaq Computer Corp. this week laid off roughly 100 engineers responsible for developing Windows NT/2000 on the Alpha platform, several informed sources said. [Note: Compaq has only discussed the 32-bit version of NT, it is still unclear whether this announcement also affects 64-bit Windows.]

What this means:

  1. As mentioned in TEC's note on Alpha ("Compaq's Alpha - Heading Toward Its Omega?" August 13, 1999), Compaq had shown little commitment to making Alpha NT a viable product set. This latest development is the other shoe which was waiting to fall.

  2. This decision indicates that Compaq no longer views Alpha as anything other than a high-end product. It is unclear whether this strategy is viable for the long term.

  3. Although Compaq has stated that it is "committed" to 64-bit Windows NT (a/k/a Win64), it is not clear how long this commitment will last.

  4. This provides Merced an additional advantage relative to Alpha. Alpha's once-trumpeted OS flexibility will be surpassed by Merced's. [Merced will run Unix, NT (32-bit and 64-bit), and Linux, Alpha will run Unix ("Tru64 Unix"), Linux, possibly Win64, and OpenVMS - but OpenVMS is almost entirely focused on legacy systems.]

  5. If Compaq decides to make further cutbacks in Alpha development (especially on the chip development side), this will be a clear signal that Alpha's future is dim.

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