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Windows NT at Apple's Core

-- by Joseph C. Panettieri

For more than two years, Apple Computer has been striving to deliver a robust, 32-bit operating system that supports preemptive multitasking and symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP). Now, Apple may finally be ready. And the product is called ... Windows NT?

In its latest and boldest step toward Windows, the Mac maker is reportedly negotiating with Microsoft to license Windows NT to sell on Apple's own PowerPC servers. At first glance, insiders view the combination as another attempt to improve Apple's standing within corporate America. But it's also clear that bundling NT with Apple PowerMacs could be just the boost Microsoft needs to save NT for the PowerPC. Sources say the software giant is giving NT for PowerPC until the end of 1997 to deliver. More than 90 percent of NT sales are on Intel platforms; about 7 percent go to Digital Alpha and the rest is divided between Mips and the PowerPC.

Canon, Motorola and IBM have all taken a crack at the NT/PowerPC market, without much success. Still, sources at Apple tell WINDOWS Magazine that the company is indeed interested in NT. Right now, Macintoshes represent the most popular PowerPC platform available. Apple's own high-end upgrade, Copland, is in serious trouble, and its partnership with Novell to port NetWare to the PowerPC has all but fizzled.

Insiders say Apple has already licensed Windows 95 for use on PowerMacs containing an Intel card. The card lets Win95 run side by side with MacOS. With NT in Apple's hands, Apple and Microsoft could gain a server presence in Apple's core desktop markets-education, graphics and desktop publishing. On the flip side, NT would finally give Apple the server operating system it needs to capture the attention of businesses.

Of course, all this is still speculation. But observers agree that Apple might be just what's needed to save NT for the PowerPC from extinction. And NT for the PowerPC might be almost as important for Apple.

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.

(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 76.)