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64-bit Windows Server Sales to Come Through OEMs

Microsoft Corp.'s new 64-bit Windows server operating system will follow the pricing and distribution model the company set with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.

Microsoft unveiled its 64-bit Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition on Wednesday. Delivery is expected in the third quarter, about the same time as OEMs begin shipping systems built on Intel Corp.'s 64-bit Itanium processor. Intel is expected to formally launch the processor next week.

"Pricing is going to be through OEMs, much like Datacenter is today," says Michael Stephenson, lead product manager of the Windows 2000 Server group.

In keeping with the Limited Edition name, the 64-bit operating system will be sold only by server vendors who are shipping complete systems. Dell Computer Corp. introduced one of those systems this week.

Windows 2000 Datacenter Server follows the same model. Only OEMs who put together a complete package can sell the operating system. It is not available as a standalone product, and Microsoft's price for the OS is unclear.

64-bit Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition is a final release and will be fully supported, but it is based on the Windows 2002 beta code, rather than the more mature Windows 2000 server code.

Users who buy the Limited Edition will get a free update to 64-bit Windows 2002 Advanced Server when that ships, Stephenson says.

Don't expect to take advantage of the full 16 terabytes of addressable memory made possible by 64-bit processing in the first generation of Windows and Intel products, not that you could from any Unix vendor, either.

"We'll support up to eight processors and 64 GB of memory" in the Limited Edition, Stephenson says. "That's pretty much in line with what most OEMs are shipping." The system Dell announced is a four-processor system with a maximum of 64 GB of RAM.

The Windows 2002 release of 64-bit Windows will ship in two versions: Advanced Server and Datacenter Server, Stephenson says. The 64-bit Windows 2002 Advanced Server version will carry the same processor and memory support limits as the Limited Edition.

The limits of the 64-bit Windows 2002 Datacenter Server version will really be up to the vendors, Stephenson says.

"If an OEM chose to support, say 256 GB of RAM, and were able to pass the certification test," they could do that, he says.

Two OEMs are currently in position to make those types of decisions. NEC Corp. has a 16-processor system waiting for Itanium. Unisys Corp. has its 32-processor ES7000 system, which current runs 32-bit Intel processors but was designed to support 64-bit Itanium processors as well.

Unisys, meanwhile, has some other options open to it. The company can ship its servers with 64-bit Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition, which has an eight processor limit, or it can give customers beta code of 64-bit Windows 2002 Datacenter Server, Stephenson notes. –

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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