Digital is holding discussions with eight other vendors, with a view to licensing its future version of Digital Unix.
This operating system will run on both Digital's own Alpha processors and Intel's upcoming Merced IA-64 architecture. Although the company was under a vow of silence over future strategies while its acquisition by Compaq waits for US regulator and shareholder approval, but this move suggested the future of Digital Unix was secure. Previously, analyst opinion had been weighted against the survival of the OS, predicting a focus on NT only.
One Unix vendor was expected to announce a licensing deal for the new version of Digital Unix in two weeks' time, with two more signing up shortly after. Tandem was favourite to be one of the three.
Sequent had previously announced it would license the next development of 64-bit Unix and would contribute some of its own technology. The new version will be given a generic name so it can be used by all the vendors.
Bob Palmer, Digital CEO, said: 'We are going to offer our Unix to the industry at a favourable royalty to try to drive at least one of two standards on Merced. Today there are 30 or 40 versions of Unix, the vast majority of those with insufficient market share to sustain the investment.'
Palmer admitted the goal of the multiple platform 64-bit offering was to grab up to 25 per cent market share to attract independent software vendors to the operating system, but said it was not a move driven by any inability to keep up with Sun, IBM and Hewlett Packard in the Unix market.
'We can offer the industry a standard 64-bit Unix for Merced, with 5,200 applications on the day the processor ships. No one else can touch that,' said Palmer.
He warned that Digital and its main competitors were the only ones capable of making the annual $100 million-plus investment in engineering required in the Unix market.
Palmer also confirmed the worldwide salesforces and channel operations of the three companies would undergo a major rationalisation once the merger with Compaq was completed, as would some engineering units.
Digital and Tandem brands will be retained, he believed, along with the Digital Storageworks and Alta Vista names. However, he said he was unlikely to remain at the merged company unless a significant role was found for him.
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