Is Digital Equipment Corp turning into the next Xerox, forever coming out with solid technology that it then fails to exploit? Following the company’s behind-the-scenes settlement with Microsoft Corp over the alleged similarities between Microsoft’s Windows NT and DEC’s venerable VMS operating system last year (CI No 3,054), there are now indications that Intel Corp may be having second thoughts about its battle with DEC over RISC patents, which emerged last month (CI No 3,160). Reports in the Wall Street Journal on Friday maintained that DEC chief executive Robert Palmer has held preliminary meetings with Intel lawyer Craig Barrett, the man responsible for settling Intel’s eight year-long legal battle with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Although no conclusions have apparently been reached, it appears that Intel would favor an out of court settlement, in return for royalties or cross-licensing agreements. What DEC’s really worried about, of course, is the 64-bit Merced chip due next year that Intel is working on with Hewlett-Packard Co. DEC might ask to participate in the development effort or form a separate chip- making alliance with Intel – although any such move would be severely disrupted. Meanwhile, just in case, Intel is scouring its massive file of patents for potential counterclaims.