The 64-bit Windows roadmap includes products for both the client and the server. These products are being developed alongside their 32-bit brethren, Windows XP and Windows 2002 Server, and will be released at the same time. "They target different markets," said Brian Marr, the Product Manager for Windows XP 64-bit edition. "The 64-bit products are targeted at the technical workstation market, while the 64-bit servers target the high-end of the server market. They are not overlapping with the 32-bit line."
So the 64-bit products are almost identical, feature-wise, to their 32-bit counterparts, but they're really not part of the same family. "There is no upgrade path from Windows XP Pro to Windows XP 64-bit Edition, for example," Marr noted. "But they are being developed in tandem, and will be launched together." <% ' Added so can inventory as Connected Home articles. kw = "CH" %>
64-bit Server releases will include Windows 2002 Server 64-bit Edition and Windows 2002 Advanced Server 64-bit Edition. This summer, Microsoft will release a pre-final version of Advanced Server, awkwardly named Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition Version 2002 (LE), that will accompany initial shipments of Itanium hardware from a variety of PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell, IBM, and others. When Windows 2002 is finalized late this year, this pre-final product will be replaced by the final versions of Advanced Server and Datacenter Server 64-bit. Customers that purchase Itanium servers before the final release will get a free upgrade to the final code.
On the client, Microsoft is offering Windows XP 64-bit Edition, which is roughly equivalent to the 32-bit version of Windows XP Professional. Like Server, a pre-release version will be available on Itanium hardware that ships this summer, and the final version of Windows XP 64-bit Edition will ship on October 25 with the 32-bit Home and Professional Editions. "It's not for everyone," Marr said. "Technical workstation users that need advanced memory support and better floating point performance will be well served by Windows XP 64-bit Edition. It provides the highest performance and scalability for those customers that are pushing today's 32-bit capabilities. But we're recommending that most users stay on the 32-bit platform for the foreseeable future."
Microsoft summarized the key benefits and features of this 64-bit platform as follows:
Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition Version 2002 (LE) supports up to eight processors and 64 GB of RAM. It includes 25 Client Access Licenses (CALs) and will only be available through the OEM channel. That is, you will only be able to obtain this release with Itanium workstation hardware. Support is directly through Microsoft only, and customers will receive a free upgrade to the final release when that is made available. Support for LE ends 90 days after Windows 2002 is finalized.
Also, LE will be an English-only release.
Key 64-bit Server features include:
In phase six, the Windows XP products will be released to manufacturing and Microsoft will ship the final version of Windows XP 64-bit Edition to OEMs so that they can upgrade existing customers and include the product with new sales. Phase seven occurs in late 2001, when the Windows 2002 Server products RTM. At that point, LE will be canceled and two new editions, Windows Advanced Server 2002 and Windows Datacenter 2002, will become available.
Microsoft has one team building all Windows products, not separate teams for the 32-bit and 64-bit products, so a showstopper bug on one platform is a showstopper for the other. Rodriguez noted that over 3000 companies are participating in the 64-bit beta, providing OS testing and product feedback. Many of these companies were culled from the successful Windows 2000 Joint Development Program (JDP).
Realizing that applications compatibility was going to be a key goal for its customers, Microsoft made the 64-bit versions of Windows compatible with existing 32-bit applications through a new Windows On Windows 64-bit (WOW64) compatibility layer. "So we're compatible with 32-bit apps out of the box, and it run most Win32 apps, though 16-bit installers won't work for the most part. This compatibility layer is not recommended for server apps, but it works well for desktop apps and administrator utilities." Microsoft has teams working on native 64-bit applications and servers, including SQL Server, Visual Studio, Services for UNIX and the like. And of course, numerous ISVs are working on 64-bit applications as well.
Regarding the feature-set, Microsoft says it has achieved general parity between its 32-bit and 64-bit products. But the following features will not be included in the 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows 2002:
I haven't discussed any of the technical details of the Itanium processor or Windows 64-bit editions, but both Intel and Microsoft have worked to ensure that today's developers can transition to 64-bits as easily as possible, while the end user experience should be virtually indistinguishable from the popular 32-bit lines. While it's unlikely that this first generation IA-64 processor will be a runaway sales success, it is at least a stunning preview of the platform we will all be moving to in the near future. But today, the future is here now in the form of Itanium hardware and pre-release versions of 64-bit Windows. For customers that simply must have the most powerful hardware and software combination available, Windows is finally the obvious choice.