SGI Backs Away from Windows NT

Just as Silicon Graphics Inc. seemed to be getting into gear in the Windows NT marketplace, the company reversed course.

Just as Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI, seemed to be getting into gear in the Windows NT marketplace, the company reversed course.

In early August, SGI announced four-way servers running Windows NT: the SGI 1400M. The SGI cases for the servers housed hardware actually manufactured by Intel Corp. This move had followed other recent pushes into NT by SGI: a new line of visual workstations for Windows NT that came out in February and the porting of SGI applications such as the data mining tool MineSet 3.0 to Windows NT.

Company officials positioned the server as a bridge for SGI customers who wanted access to Windows NT-only applications as a front end for data or applications in SGI’s back end -- its Irix flavor of Unix running on proprietary server hardware that can have as many as 256 processors.

At the time of the announcement, SGI was pitching a parallel line of new servers, the SGI 1400L running Linux, as more strategically important to the company.

Since then the company unveiled a reorganization to narrow its focus and cut its workforce by 1,000 to 1,500 employees. One effort of the reorganization is to work with an unnamed partner that will take over the Windows NT visual workstation product line. Company officials acknowledged that they are too late to the Windows NT market, and wanted to stay involved with the workstations to service existing customers.

Company officials now say SGI’s major development and marketing efforts with Intel chips will revolve around Linux. This has broader implications to SGI’s product line than its fledgling Windows NT products. SGI has also scrapped plans to port its high-end Irix operating system to Intel’s 64-bit Merced processor when that processor comes out.

With the reorganization came a change at the top: Board member Robert Bishop replaced Rick Belluzzo as chairman and CEO. Belluzzo is reportedly taking a job as the head of the Interactive Media Group at Microsoft.

A company spokesman says the Windows NT servers will still be sold to fill the customer need for single vendor solutions from SGI that support Windows NT-only server-side applications, such as the OLAP tool from MicroStrategy Inc. ( The company still plans to offer two- and eight-way servers running Windows NT within 12 months, the spokesman said.