December 17, 1996 11:00 AM ET
Motorola follows IBM's lead, drops NT support for PowerPC
By Norvin Leach and Lisa DiCarlo

  Motorola Corp. has followed IBM's lead and dropped its plans for support of Windows NT on the PowerPC because of poor sales.

Company officials said Monday that Motorola will continue to support NT 4.0 and subsequent maintenance releases but will stop short of releasing machines with NT 5, which is due around the end of next year. The only Motorola product to be affected is the PowerStac II workstation.

As a result of the decision, Motorola will continue to manufacture PowerPC chips for embedded systems and for the Macintosh operating system because both markets are doing well, a company spokesman said.

According to a spokesman with IBM's RS/6000 division, the decision to discontinue sales PowerPC-based NT systems was mutually decided by IBM and Motorola.

Although the RS/6000 division manufactures PowerPC systems that run either AIX or NT, AIX-based systems accounted for more than 90 percent of sales, company sources said.

While it has dropped NT sales, Motorola expects to sell 50,000 Macintosh clones this year and has contracted with several manufacturers to use embedded PowerPC chips, including Xerox and Ford.

A Motorola spokesman said that the company also is looking at the possibility of using an embedded version of NT for those chips.

In addition, Motorola will continue to work with Microsoft Corp. to support Windows CE, an operating system designed for non-PC devices.

The change in Motorola's plans comes after a year of steady support for NT.

Earlier this year, it acquired startup FirePower Systems Inc. for the development of low-cost PowerPC-based NT desktops. But it is now unclear what the outcome of that acquisition will be.

And a year ago, the company opened an application-porting center in Austin, Texas. In November, it launched the PowerStac II workstation, to upgrade the original PowerStac.

But Motorola failed to convince enough ISVs to port their applications and was unable to sell enough systems to justify the investment.

News of the decision had not reached all of Microsoft-as late as Monday, some Microsoft product managers still insisted that the company would port NT 5 to the PowerPC.

The PowerPC was one of three RISC chips to support NT. A few months ago, NEC and Microsoft dropped support on another RISC platform-the MIPS chip.

Now, Digital Equipment Corp.'s Alpha chip is the only RISC chip to support NT.

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