It’s rare that Microsoft is troubled by a lack of self-confidence — even when richly merited — but today’s announcement of Itanium support for Longhorn shows just how nervous the Richmond giant has been in high-end systems. The company’s less-than-stellar reputation for reliability and security has created a cynical, critical audience for its pitches at the posh end of the market, and that’s not a community whose objections are easy to ignore.
However, Microsoft is now gaining confidence — even if it’s not doing too well on shipping products. It will have a clustered edition of Windows, when the schedule stops slipping. It has bought into 64-bit, across the board.. And now, if you train your telescopes to the red-shifted end of the Longhorn Server release schedule in 2007, it will have Itanium support to boot.
That’s good news for Intel, but no news would have been very bad. Microsoft has nowhere else to go: all of the other chips in that world are owned by its competitors. The day Windows will be ported to Power or any other RISC architecture will be when Bill Gates releases it under the GPL, the day after Zen Buddhism becomes the state religion of Saudi Arabia.
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And I was really hoping for Risc and Sparc editions of Longhorn.