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Is Vista Microsoft's Last 32-bit OS?

Microsoft announced at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference this week that the mid-cycle, R2 release of Windows Server 2008 will be 64-bit only. Some have extrapolated that to mean that Windows Vista will be the final 32-bit desktop OS from Microsoft. Not so, according to a company blog.

Windows senior product manager Alex Heaton, in an entry on the Windows Vista team blog, said that no decision has been made yet on the next client version. "That is an incorrect extension," Heaton wrote. "While Windows Vista includes both 32-bit and 64-bit and there is a growing community of drivers for 64-bit Windows Vista we have not decided when Windows Client will follow Windows Server and become 64-bit only."

The version of Windows Server 2008, formerly code-named "Longhorn," that is scheduled for release late this year or early next, has both 32- and 64-bit versions. A 64-bit client OS could have significant compatibility issues with current software, the vast majority of which is written for 32-bit hardware. Server manufacturers currently produce both versions, but Vista was Microsoft's first 64-bit-capable desktop OS. Microsoft's first 64-bit-only application was Exchange 2007.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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