Cliff Saran & Caroline Davis
Microsoft has released the 64-bit Windows 2000 software developers kit and device developers kit, designed to help users build 64-bit applications.
Yesterday's (Wednesday) release means that businesses can start developing high-powered Windows applications to run on Intel's next generation of 64-bit processors. Analysts believe the release of Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor, expected in autumn this year, will signal a new era in the scalability of Windows systems.
Although 64-bit systems have been around for some years, with Itanium they will become mainstream, explained Jon Collins, senior analyst at Bloor Research. "When Intel goes 64-bit, so will the world," he said.
"Microsoft Windows scales 'out' - it uses multi-node clustering to offset the fact that it can't scale up well."
Collins said, "64-bit Windows will allow systems to scale 'up'."
The advent of 64-bit computing will add weight to Microsoft's claim that Windows is capable of running high-end e-commerce and enterprise applications.
Dell demonstrated a 64-bit version of its Poweredge server at Microsoft's Tech Ed European technical conference last week. The server ran 64-bit Windows 2000 with 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Exchange e-mail server and SQL Server database.
Dell said the new 64-bit architecture provided a vast improvement in the performance of intensive server-based applications such as Windows Terminal Services, the multi-user Windows operating system.
Boris Bialek, senior solutions consultant at Dell, believes improvements in the way memory is managed will be a key factor in achieving the best performance from 64-bit systems. "Performance on 32-bit systems is good, but users are demanding more memory," he said.
Bialek said the increased memory support of the Itanium processes gives a significant performance boost. "The Itanium not only offers higher speeds, it also supports 16Gbyte memory," he said. The more memory in an IT system, the better the overall performance.
The result for Windows Terminal Services is that the operating system can use more available memory, making applications run faster
IBM's DB/2 database and SAP's Mysap are also available for the 64-bit version of Windows 2000. The first public beta of Oracle 8i for 64-bit Windows 2000 is due later this month.
Advantages of Windows 2000 on Itanium