Microsoft Corp. on Monday started to sell its Microsoft Windows operating system for computers with x86 64-bit processors. The OSes can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications without reducing performance and bring additional speed gains to systems featuring processors featuring 64-bit extensions. Analysts and observers have already called the release of Windows XP x64 Professional and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions the start of massive transition to 64-bit.
“The release of Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions will be the gun that starts the race to 64-bit computing. Once there is a generally available 64-bit version of Windows, we'll start to see all the utilities and infrastructure applications moving to 64 bits. By the end of 2006, I anticipate that Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions will be the default operating system for most new Windows Server shipments,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.
Early adopters of Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions have seen stronger, faster results for database and data-intensive server applications. The x64 version of Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services, for example, can accommodate up to 170% more users per server than its 32-bit predecessor, according to Microsoft.
Customers using Windows XP Professional x64 Edition are experiencing similar performance enhancements on the desktop in areas such as digital content creation, engineering, scientific computing and game development. For these customers, this translates into x64 Windows offering up to 32 times more physical memory and more than 1000 times more virtual memory to work with, allowing them to work with massive datasets without needing to break the datasets into multiple portions, Microsoft said.
Partners from every segment of the industry are demonstrating support for the Windows x64 platform on both the desktop and the server, with more than 400 supporting applications becoming available in the coming months. More than 16 000 of hardware vendors have developed drivers for the new 64-bit operating systems.
Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition are priced identically to their 32-bit counterparts and will be generally available beginning today. In addition, customers who acquired a qualifying 32-bit version of Windows with x64 hardware are eligible to exchange it for the x64 version. Microsoft's Volume Licensing customers may do this via their media kits; customers who acquired Windows from an original equipment manufacturer or system builder can receive their new software via the Technology Advancement Program.
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 put the final launch of Microsoft’s x64-64 operating systems into Q2 2005.