64 bits, Microsoft profits,public loses


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That was unexpectedly technical - itanium disassembly, crashing debuggers, the maze of which platforms NT did and then did not support. A hint that floating point implementation details were behind the originally noted game defects.

The original 2012 Raymond Chen blog article got some good comments from the original authors of the game - they worked for Cinematronics, which later changed ownership. (That’s not, apparently, the pinball manufacturer of the same name.) To read those comments, you need to visit an archived version of the blog:

There’s also interesting commentary in two HN postings of this blog: one, two.

And there’s an interesting note or two about the Alpha version of Windows: because NT source code was suspiciously related to DEC’s source code for their cancelled VMS successor project, a settlement was reached whereby Alpha would be a supported target for NT. As a consequence, there were Alpha boxes running in Microsoft, useful even after the Alpha port had been killed - with Itanium as the official 64 bit target, but not Itanium silicon in existence, that was handy. Here’s Raymond Chen again:
Running Windows Server 64-bit on Alpha AXP

The 64-bit Windows project was already well under way, and of the 64-bit processors under consideration, only the Alpha AXP was actually available in physical form. The Intel Itanium was still under development and ran only in a simulator, and the AMD64 architecture hadn’t even been invented yet. As a result, 64-bit Windows was initially developed on the Alpha AXP.

When Compaq announced that they would no longer support Windows on the Alpha AXP, all these Alpha AXP machines that previously had been used for 32-bit Windows 2000 development and testing got repurposed and began serving a secret life as test machines for a 64-bit operating system that will never ship in that form. The Alpha AXP was merely a proof-of-concept platform.

And as it turns out there was even a limited Alpha version of Windows 2000 available, in the form of the RC1 beta.

Windows NT, VMS, Dave Cutler, code transfer from DEC to Microsoft, I was there … nothing suspicious about that. Microsoft clustering Wolfpack based upon VAX clustering. Close cooperation at that time, months at Microsoft headquarters, still remember the rain in Seattle …