Updates for NT 4.0 on the DEC Alpha

It seems that the ‘official’ updates for NT 4.0/Alpha on the Microsoft website are long gone… I know that Internet explorer 5.0 will be a part of that SUN vs Microsoft lawsuit which barred Microsoft from distributing any product containing the MS JVM… (like Office 97, IE5, J++ etc…)

However I found a stack of CD’s containing among other things the last updates that were provided for the DEC Alpha platform running NT 4.0.

For Windows NT 4.0 workstation & server users you’ll want Service pack 6a.

Terminal Server users will no doubt want Service pack 5. As far as I can tell, this was the last update to Terminal Server for Alpha users. Also there are MANY WTSALPHA.EXE’s out there, that are ALL corrupt… I was very lucky to have found this on a CD, and I can safely say that it runs perfectly fine on my Alpha.

Finally, on the Service pack 6a CD, there is a copy of Internet Explorer 5.0, and I’m pretty sure this was the last Alpha version of IE released. I’m sure its possible to run Firefox 1.5 or maybe even IE6 via !FX32, but native exe’s are so much the better. Internet Explorer 5.0 contains the standard accessories, namely outlook express, netmeeting, comic chat, and the media player…

I’ve been lucky enough to have a MSDN CD set from 1998, that included the MS Word, and Excel for the DEC Alpha… Back in 1997 when I used a DEC Multia, as a primary machine, I remember how ‘cool’ it was to run Office 97 through FX32, along with lotus notes to do work stuff… But I have to tell you, sure it’s 2010, but having a native version is way more cooler.

Also I have to say the C++ compiler for the DEC Alpha is the buggiest thing I’ve ever seen. The ‘hint’ should have been from the NT 3.5 SDK that builds all the Alpha stuff with the /Od flag turning off all optimizations. I had such a hard time with unzip it’s not even funny.

Luckily Visual C++ 6.0 for the Alpha is way more stable, even unzip will build with the /O2 flags. I can only wonder how much Microsoft went crazy fighting this compiler.. They seemed all to willing to give up on public releases of NT for the Alpha, but rumor is that the Itanium was so delayed for physical units, the 64bit version of Windows 2000 was started on the DEC Alphas… Then finally ‘tested’ with the Windows 2000 Data Center limited availability release…

For what it’s worth, here is the version strings of the compiler….

Microsoft (R) & Digital (TM) Alpha C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 12.00.8217
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1984-1998.
Copyright (C) Digital Equipment Corporation 1992-1998
Copyright (C) Compaq Computer Corporation 1998.
All rights reserved.

And the compiler that is on the NT 3.5 SDK…

Microsoft (R) & Digital (TM) AXP C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 8.03.JFa
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1984-1994.
Copyright (C) Digital Equipment Corporation 1992-1994
All rights reserved.

It’s funny that there is almost *NO* mention of this 8.03.JFa version… But then I’m sure most people at the time, didn’t realize that the i386/MIPS compilers were on the 3.1 SDK, the Alpha on the 3.5 & the PowerPC on the 3.51… I never did figure out why they didn’t keep on providing these compilers…. But then MS works in mysterious ways at times.

Oh, and I finally benched quake on the console with a 32k video card.. It was just shy of 60FPS! Which for a 600Mhz machine circa 1996 is pretty dammed fast! The fastest intel cpu at the time would have been the 200Mhz Pentium PRO… I actually have one, and I’ll have to install NT 4.0 on that and do a comparison..

21 thoughts on “Updates for NT 4.0 on the DEC Alpha

  1. Where on earth did you find the Alpha version of VC6?

    When I bought the x86 version, I duly sent off the coupon for the free Alpha version, but the CD never arrived.

  2. Neozeed, looking for *any* compiler for NT 4.0 Alpha, this sounds very interesting. Unfortunately your gcc-alpha.zip can't be downloaded because you need an ftp user/password I don't know.

  3. “I never did figure out why they didn’t keep on providing these compilers….”
    The reason I think is that the compiler was not part of the main Visual C++ product yet, so there was no other way to obtain them.

    • Im sure there was some cross vendor thing tied to them… Although I guess the MIPS/PowerPC stuff is different as they lived on for Windows CE.

  4. Hello –

    I don’t suppose you could post a picture of the MSDN CD in question, could you?

    (On the off-chance a 1999 set pops up on eBay, it’d be great to be able point at the photo and ask the seller “is this one in the folder?)



  5. Luckily I am also able to use VC6 for NT Alpha, and some other cool stuff like VB6, SQL 7.0, and finally also native Alpha Versions of Word and Excel.

    At the moment, I am curious about a possibility to disable FX!32 so no x86 code can be executed (this is an idea to prevent any malware code … I am not aware any virus exists with Alpha compatibility). Perhaps I will even connect the machine again to Internet 😉

    • Cool! … I think FX!32 hinges as a service that can be quickly disabled… its been too long and my alpha didn’t arrive in once piece… 🙁 No more dec alpha for me.. sigh.

          • > The only consolation is my Itanium is ok… sigh. Alphas were cooler.

            Alphas were *officially* cool. Mine was originally bought to render scenes in a game, and later spent its retirement as the company’s VPN server.

            I’ve offered it to the Computing History Museum here in the UK (http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/) – I don’t suppose I could talk you into donating your VC6 discs to go with it, could I? (I’ll happily pay the shipping costs).



      • Meanwhile I am a bit smarter… the appropriate program is named X86PROG.EXE on W2K (not FX!32, which is located as an additional program in a subdirectory \VALUEADD\FX32MGR on CD).
        Some DLLs named WX86*.DLL are involved, too.
        At the moment I am not sure about a windows service which can be stopped or controlled manually.

  6. From the IE 5 for Alpha distribution:

    $ file cchat.exe
    cchat.exe: PE32 executable (GUI) Alpha (stripped to external PDB), for MS Windows

    You know exactly what to do now.

  7. Hey neozeed,
    Awesome to see someone putting the effort into such a write up,
    I’ve been trying to get my hands on an alpha system without paying a fortune for years, not im trying to get my mitts on nt4 for alpha along with any associated files such as what you have posted links for but sadly all avenues to obtain these seem to have run dry. including your links. would you perhaps be kind enough and able to reupload them somewhere?

    Cheers in advance!

  8. Trying to install WNT4.0 on a DS10 466Mhz, am using the alphaBIOS and can start the setup from CD but I am being prompted to instert a floppy disk (for the HAL), regardless of the machine I select.

    What am I doing wrong/missing..?


    Mike T.

    • You may need a HAL diskette… I found a bunch of them here. Although Im not sure which one you’d require so you may have to download them all and see if any are for the DS10.

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