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The Devil's in the x64 Hardware Details

Microsoft has a $12 upgrade program to encourage customers running 32-bit Windows XP Professional on machines with x64 processors to make the jump to Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. The software giant warns, however, that customers need to proceed carefully with respect to their hardware.

The upgrade promotion is called the "Microsoft Windows x64 Edition Technology Advancement Program," and details are available on Microsoft's Web site at (https://microsoft.productorder.com/clientx64/default.aspx).

A list of caveats for the program notes that the operating system won't work unless the hardware manufacturers have created 64-bit drivers for all the hardware components. The list also notes, menacingly, "The installation of Windows XP Professional x64 Editions will void any support with your PC manufacturer."

Such caveats in PC warranties are standard -- any changes to the system, especially those that involve opening the computer case, will usually void the warranty. The x64 situation is unusual in that the hardware OEMs shipped 64-bit processors with a 32-bit operating system in full knowledge that users expected to one day upgrade, so it's worth checking with hardware vendors for exceptions.

Microsoft will allow one free support call for any installation-related issues. Subsequent calls will be on a pay-per-incident basis.

The program applies to systems with AMD64 or Intel EM64T processors purchased with 32-bit Windows XP Professional pre-installed between March 31, 2003 and July 31, 2005.

The $12 fee covers the cost of shipping and handling the installation CD to U.S. customers. Customers outside the United States are charged $22 plus tax.

Microsoft released Windows XP Professional x64 Edition on April 25 during the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. The launch was simultaneous with three x64 editions of Windows Server 2003, and all four operating systems are built on Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 code. Pricing for the x64 editions is the same as pricing for 32-bit editions.

About the Author

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

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