Microsoft's imminent release of SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) takes us a step closer to the commoditisation of 64-bit computing.
Assuming that Moore's Law holds good for a while longer, suppliers will be selling 64-bit equivalents of their current 32-bit server ranges for roughly the same prices by Christmas 2003.
But how many enterprises actually require such sophisticated, high-end computing?
So far, 64-bit technology has been the reserve of scientific institutes, big financial houses and other organisations that maintain immense databases.
When a company like Gillette buys half a billion RFID tags in order to track products and monitor its supply chain, the new levels of computational analysis and application scalability that 64-bit affords would make a real difference in data processing. For wealthy, data-rich firms, the falling price of 64-bit computational power is good news.
But for lesser enterprises running less complex applications, 64-bit's mind-boggling capabilities are unlikely to be used. What, one wonders, will 64-bit Solitaire or 64-bit Microsoft Office Assistant look like?
In reality, the majority of companies would rather see the major suppliers focus their attentions on making existing systems more robust and secure.
This was first published in April 2003