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MS halts NT on PowerPC

Microsoft will phase out development efforts for the Windows NT operating system that runs on PowerPC systems.

In yet another setback for the PowerPC effort, Microsoft (MSFT) announced today that it will phase out development efforts for the version of its Windows NT operating system that runs on PowerPC systems.

The company attributed the decision to decreasing demand for systems based on PowerPC processors. However, it pledged continued technical support to customers who already run Windows NT on systems that use the chips.

The troika that spawned the PowerPC includes IBM, Apple Computer, and Motorola. The PowerPC platform was conceived as an architecture that would run a variety of operating systems, including the Mac OS and Windows NT.

Development efforts have been slow, however, and support has waned in recent months. In December Motorola followed IBM, the chip's two primary manufacturers, in announcing plans to phase out systems that run Windows NT on the PowerPC boxes.

Both Microsoft and Motorola, however, said they continue working closely on development of the chip for handheld computer running the stripped-down Windows CE operating system. Motorola is also exploring the possibilities for using PowerPC chips as the basis for network computer hardware.

Microsoft said it will save NT development efforts for systems based on Intel's x86 and Digital Equipment's Alpha processors.

However, earlier this week, reports circulated that Apple is considering licensing the Windows NT operating system from Microsoft. Since Apple's systems are based on the PowerPC processor, that could lead Microsoft to rethink its PowerPC strategy.