Microsoft’s 64-Bit Support Rains In Spain

The year may be starting to wind down, but Microsoft’s deluge of last-quarter software releases is still going strong.

The company announced more server software updates and timetables for upcoming business applications during IT Forum 2005 in Barcelona Spain today.

With an emphasis on software support for 64-bit computing , company officials said Microsoft Exchange Server 12, the new Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, Windows Server Longhorn Small Business Server, and Microsoft’s Centro infrastructure will be exclusively 64-bit and tailored to run on x64 hardware.

Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsofts Server and Tools division, said customers will get a taste of this 64-bit hardware transition in a future release of Longhorn, R2.

The news follows its recent launch of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Virtual Server 2005 R2, all of which are primed for 64-bit architecture.

Microsoft’s increasing support of 64-bit computing is a sign of its faith in the future of the architecture, which boasts greater physical and virtual memory, among other improvements over its 32-bit ancestor. IBM, Dell, Sun Microsystems and HP are all pouring the 64-bit solutions on, making the transition an obvious choice for a major applications provider such as Microsoft.

Muglia also said Microsoft has released to manufacturing Virtual Server 2005 R2, which will be available the first week of December. Virtual Server 2005 R2, equipped with greater performance, will cost $99 as a standard edition and $199 for an enterprise version.

The company also announced the December release to manufacturing of System Center Capacity Planner 2006, which lets customers do performance analysis of Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 software.

Microsoft is also crafting a midmarket offering, called System Center Essentials, that helps medium-sized companies secure, update, monitor and track their IT environment.

Muglia also said Microsoft’s new supercomputing software, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 Beta 2, is now public.

During the dual-keynote, Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, detailed the launch of Microsoft Dynamics GP, business management applications that combine the capabilities of Microsoft’s Great Plains assets with an interface that looks like the company’s popular Office suite.

The fusing of business applications with Office tools is part of Microsoft’s plan to offer customers a user-friendly experience and improve collaboration across the workforce.

Microsoft Dynamics GP features role-based user templates to provide information tailored to an individual’s daily responsibilities; better business intelligence tools; new extranet capabilities; and tighter integration with the forthcoming Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 through a new processing engine based on XML.

A standard edition of Dynamics GP 9.0. starts at $3,500 for up to four users, while the professional version starts at $7,500, also up to four users.

Lastly, Raikes unveiled a new version of its Windows Desktop Search tool for enterprise users.

Windows Desktop Search provides a single search starting point from which users can find information on their PCs, in e-mail, on networks, or across intranets and the Web.

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