When you work with one of the Alpha NT workstations, you'll quickly learn about Digital Semiconductor's interpretive program FX!32. FX!32 recompiles and optimizes Intel-native NT code for the Alpha platform. (Although you can buy a version of NT Server 4.0 and NT Workstation 4.0 for the Alpha chipset, most NT-related software runs on the Intel version of the operating system.) After FX!32 has compiled a program, it optimizes and the compilation every time you run the program.

You activate FX!32 in the FX!32 Uninstaller, which you access from the Start menu. You can't run Intel-native programs on an NT Alpha machine if you don't enable FX!32, and you can't install NT Alpha programs if you don't disable FX!32. Either way, you must reboot the system every time you want to change FX!32's status. Screen A shows FX!32 Uninstaller with the Disable option button selected.

The biggest drawback to FX!32 is that it is not completely compatible with all available Intel-native NT software. In the Windows NT Magazine Lab, I installed Intel versions of Adobe's Photoshop, Agfa's PhotoWise, and Corel's WordPerfect Suite 8 with FX!32 and ran them without a hitch. However, Vista Imaging's video camera didn't fare well, nor did Symantec's Norton AntiVirus 2.0--whether or not FX!32 works with a particular piece of software is a bit of a crapshoot. But many vendors supply native Alpha software, so FX!32's flawless functionality is becoming less important. To find out which vendors offer native NT Alpha applications, check out the AlphaPowered Web site at http://www.alphapowered.com.