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Microsoft Corp.’s officials expressed at Intel Developer Forum the company’s strong intention to release its long-awaited operating system for computers based on the so-called x86-64 chips that can execute 32-bit and 64-bit code natively in April.

“We are locked on 64-bit…You should start [tailoring] your applications to 64-bit in a native way,” said Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s senior vice president of platforms, trying to popularize the idea of creating software that takes advantage of 64-bit processing among software developers.

According to the exec of Microsoft, the company aims to ship desktop/workstation version of Windows XP Professional x64 in early April, 2005, with x86-64 flavour of Windows Server 2003 leaving the building in Redmond, Washington in late April, 2005.

While the world’s top software maker is not usually accurate with release dates for its upcoming products, the statement concerning 64-bit desktop and server OS gives some backing to Intel’s recently announced desktop chips that support 64-bit capability. Besides that Microsoft’s representative also applauded Intel’s forthcoming innovations – multi-core processors as well as virtualization technology.

Microsoft originally planned to release its operating systems for computers powered by x86 processors with 64-bit capability in late 2003 or early 2004. However, in mid-October 2003 the world’s largest software maker said it would only be in a position to ship the new products only in Q4 2004. April, 2005, release would put the final launch of Microsoft’s x64-64 operating systems into Q2 2005.

Microsoft and its products have historically been a major driving force for technology progress. In the past, the new versions of the company’s operating systems encouraged customers to switch to newer hardware. In case this happens with the OS update that does not exactly bring any tangible benefits for end-users, both Advanced Micro Devices, who pioneered the x86-64 technology back in 2000, and Intel Corp., who recently unveiled a lineup of IA32 64-bit products, may enjoy an uptick in microprocessor sales, which may also catalyze higher demand for hardware from other makers.

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