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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Expands Support for AMD's 64-Bit Systems

Microsoft said Wednesday it has begun beta availability of Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems, adding the company will support both Standard and Enterprise editions.

It also said it would add a Standard Edition of Windows Server 2003 for Itanium-based systems made by Intel . Intel has yet to push a 64-bit strategy, as it tries to drive demand for its Itanium line.

Microsoft said support for AMD64 technology affords customers value and flexibility by supporting a mix of 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the same machine.

In late September, Microsoft launched a beta of its Windows XP operating system for support of 64-bit Extended Systems, including those based on AMD's Opteron 64-bit processor workstations and AMD Athlon 64 desktops.

Microsoft's support for 64-bit systems is in part designed to allow customers who are running Windows XP 32-bit applications to migrate to 64-bit operating systems.

Recent research by Dataquest said 64-bit architecture will become more mainstream in 2005, when applications evolve to the point where they demand memory systems larger than the industry-wide 32-bit systems can process.

While Microsoft is releasing the beta version of its Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems, it is not expected to have a final release before the first half of 2004.

The beta comes on the heels of confirmation from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates about the timetable for releasing the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn. Speaking at the TechNet/MSDN seminar in the Hague, Gates reportedly said there is no official release date for Longhorn. He said it may be 2005 or 2006 before the next version of the company's OS will arrive in the market.

Microsoft's 2005 release date for its next version of Windows has been a point of contention and discussion among company watchers and Microsoft insiders alike.

As previously reported by internetnews.com, Joe Wilcox, Microsoft analyst for Jupiter Research (owned by the parent company of this site), noted in August that Microsoft's efforts to align all of its products with the Longhorn operating system -- and its new Windows Future Storage (WinFS) file system --would force it to push public release of the OS back to 2006.

Wilcox noted that he believes Longhorn -- once slated for 2004 release, and then pushed back to early 2005 -- won't ship until 2006, when supporting Microsoft applications start reaching the market.

One of the major reasons for the delay? The WinFS file system.

"It's a brand new file system. You change the file system, you create the potential to break [existing] applications. This isn't just a different file system, it's a radically different file system. Microsoft will probably have a very protracted process on the development side to give developers a long time to prepare. Once people begin to move to Longhorn, basically they have to replace all of their applications. I'm sure Microsoft will supply some backward compatibility mechanism, but running the old 'soft will not be as good as running the new 'soft."

In a related development, Sun Microsystems on Tuesday said it will offer its Solaris operating system for AMD's Opteron 64-bit platform. RedHat has already said it is backing the release of AMD's 64-bit version for Linux. NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD have also said they will offer AMD 64-bit support.

A recent research study commissioned by AMD and conducted by Gartner Custom Research claims that as enterprises migrate to 64-bit computing it will be essential to have support for both 32-bit and 64-bit applications as companies migrate their technology.

The respondents of the Gartner research said the main benefit of 64-bit computing is increased performance because of access to more memory. Those surveyed also said that enabling faster queries, processing for large database applications and facilitating quicker financial transactions would be other benefits of the migration to 64-bit computing.