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Windows XP for Extended Systems Now Slated for Q4

Microsoft on Tuesday provided a finish line for its lengthy process of putting out a 64-bit edition of Windows XP that will support the AMD 64-bit processors.

Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems [is] scheduled to be released in the fourth quarter of 2004," Microsoft said in a statement released from its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle.

Windows XP came in a version supporting 64-bit Intel Itanium systems when original versions of Windows XP shipped back in October of 2001. That wasn't favoritism of long-time Microsoft partner and associate Intel -- Intel simply had a 64-bit processor available when Windows XP shipped and AMD did not. AMD released its server processor, the Opteron, in April 2003, and its desktop and workstation version, the AMD64, in the fall.

Still, one of the many momentum dramas facing AMD was whether Microsoft would set aside its long partnership with Intel and support the AMD 64-bit processors. Most observers, including respected developers inside Microsoft, said the matter of supporting AMD's processors would not be a major undertaking. Unlike Intel, which created an entirely new instruction set for its 64-bit processors, AMD based its 64-bit systems on the x86 instruction set used in most 32-bit processors.

Microsoft said in early 2003 that it would ship versions of Windows that fully support AMD's 64-bit processors in the fourth quarter of 2003. That initial goal, however, has now been pushed back about a year. Many of Microsoft's fourth quarter 2003 plans met the same fate, most notably Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

Complicating Microsoft's decision-making process was the decision made by Intel earlier this year to support 64-bit extensions in its 32-bit Xeon processors -- an approach similar to AMD's. Microsoft chose to create one operating system version that will support both the Intel extensions and the AMD processors.

Meanwhile, Microsoft on Tuesday assured hardware developers attending WinHEC that although Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems might be three years behind the original release, everything in the operating system would be up to date. It will include the latest DirectX API, System Restore, Windows Movie Maker 2, Windows Messenger and Windows Media Player. It will also support Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the .NET Framework.

About the Author

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

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