Chicago (IL) – Microsoft is quickly approaching the release date of the 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional. Following the release of RC2, the final version is expected within the first half of this year. Many unknown factors about the 64-bit desktop market still surround the introduction, but Microsoft believes that "millions" of users will make the switch to the new desktop OS within the first year after release.
The computer industry now is well into the era of 64-bit computing with AMD’s 64-bit processors on the market for about two years and Intel’s desktop processors now catching up. What is still missing is a 64-bit Windows operating system for desktop mass market.
However, Microsoft says it is on track to meet its goal for a delivery of the final version of Windows XP Professional x64 during the first half of this year. "We are just out with the second release candidate and we plan this to be last one," said Brian Marr, senior product manager for Windows. However the release pf RC2 was characteristic for the whole development process of the first desktop version of a 64-bit Windows.
The download of the release candidate was delayed for several days, due to a "website hiccup", as we were told. Windows XP 64-bit was demonstrated the first time in a technical preview back in May of 2001 with indicated delivery dates of 2003 and 2004. According to Marr, delays were not just caused by the different 64-bit strategies of AMD and Intel, but also by the "complexity" of the Windows product family. "At times we had to shift developer over to higher priority products such as the Windows Media Center Edition, the Service Pack 2, and then shift them back onto x64."
Looking back into the 64-bit history, it is however quite obvious, that Microsoft had to deal with some missteps, especially of Intel. Intel believed in a radical shift towards 64-bit with its Itanium processors for workstations and servers and convinced Microsoft to offer a Windows XP version for the IA-64 platform. As it turned out, demand was weak to non-existent for Itaniums on workstations and Microsoft ceased production of the IA-64 Windows XP Pro in September 2004, according to Marr. "The Itanium wasn’t the right processor for workstations. There were too many sacrifices in terms of performance. The Xeon offers a much smoother transition for workstations."
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Well I know for 64 bit is gonna be in my next desktop PC, but I’m waiting until there is a sure enough set of applications and hardware products that will take advantage of the platform for now. I also want to make sure my HP 840c Printer works well with it. 😉 And of course my next laptop has to be a Tablet PC, which is just absolutely cool the ability to write instead type and still have all in one functionality of both keyboard and stylus. Early or mid 2006 should be time I start investing in these technologies, cost and significance are two reasons why haven’t taken the steps acquire them yet.