Intel's Itanium platform--co-developed originally with HP--was going to be the 64-bit future. But it's been in a steady death spiral for years, replaced by the inferior but infinitely more compatible x64 architecture. This announcement from Microsoft might kindly be viewed as the final nail in the Itanium coffin, and it comes after a weird Windows Server 2008 release that included just a small subset of the overall functionality when run on Itanium:

Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the last version of Windows Server to support the Intel Itanium architecture.  SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 are also the last versions to support Itanium.

Why the change?  The natural evolution of the x86 64-bit (“x64”) architecture has led to the creation of processors and servers which deliver the scalability and reliability needed for today’s “mission-critical” workloads.  Just this week, both Intel and AMD have released new high core-count processors, and servers with 8 or more x64 processors have now been announced by a full dozen server manufacturers.  Such servers contain 64 to 96 processor cores, with more on the horizon.

Microsoft will continue to focus on the x64 architecture, and it’s new business-critical role, while we continue to support Itanium customers for the next 8 years as this transition is completed.

Thanks to Zack W. for the tip.