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MS stands by Alpha chip

Microsoft shows continued support for Digital's struggling Alpha microprocessor by pledging to deliver a beta version of 64-bit Windows NT on Alpha later this year.

Microsoft (MSFT) today showed continued support for the struggling Digital Equipment (DEC) Alpha microprocessor by pledging to deliver 64-bit Very Large Memory (VLM) support for the platform in its next version of Windows NT.

Windows NT 5.0, due in beta in the second half of this year, targets the midrange server and emerging workstation market. Support for VLM is a feature that will be attractive to small niche of the market that uses graphic-intensive applications, such as oil companies.

VLM allows more information to be processed in memory, which can speed up end-user access to applications and files, as well as minimize the time users' spend waiting for a query to be processed by a centralized database.

By supporting VLM on the Alpha processor, Microsoft continues to show support for a processing architecture that beats the clock speeds of rival processors but has stumbled in gaining mass acceptance and attracting third parties.

VLM is one of many features that will debut in NT 5.0. Also due is the long-anticipated Active Directory service that is a large step forward from NT 4.0's limited directory scheme.