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Windows Servers to Come in 3 New 64-bit Flavors

Three new 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 entered the beta testing stage on Wednesday.

Microsoft produced an Enterprise Edition of Windows Server 2003 supporting the AMD64 architecture, as expected. But the software giant had two surprise versions to unveil as well in the form of new Standard Editions for both AMD's 64-bit processors and Intel's Itanium Architecture processor.

All three products will enter general availability in the second half of 2004, at the same time as Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 is released. The GA date is a significant slip for AMD's fledgling processor, given that Microsoft had originally talked about releasing SP1 and supporting AMD's 64-bit technology in the fourth quarter of this year.

For now, the new AMD versions will carry the title of Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems. The name refers to AMD's design, which uses the x86 instruction set from Intel's 32-bit architecture. That allows the processors to run old applications seamlessly, or to take advantage of the comparatively limitless memory possible in 64-bit systems with some minor coding tweaks.

Intel took a different approach with Itanium, creating a new instruction set that requires applications to be ported to run with the full capabilities of the processor.

About the Author

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

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