Microsoft has scaled back development work on a version of Windows XP for high-end 64-bit Itanium-based workstations to offer its "x64" hybrid 64-bit/32-bit operating system on mainstream servers and workstations.
A spokesman said, "Microsoft believes Windows for Itanium-based systems is a stronger offering in the high-end server market. We will continue to offer Windows Server 2003 Enterprise and Datacenter Editions for Itanium-based systems, which are intended for customers who require the highest levels of scalability."
Microsoft is assuming that most users will purchase PC workstations and servers based on hybrid chips.
Users requiring 64-bit technology for desktop applications will be offered Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, operating systems designed to use the hybrid 64-bit/32-bit processors from AMD and Intel.
Ian Brown , research director at Gartner, was concerned Microsoft would not be offering a standard edition of Windows 2003 to support Itanium. He predicted that Intel could drop its plans to develop a chipset designed for low-cost 64-bit Itanium and 32-bit Xeon servers.
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"[Microsoft's] decision confirms the Itanium server as a niche, Risc/Unix alternative for high-end database and enterprise resource planning applications," he said.
Microsoft's move follows Hewlett-Packard's decision last year to offload its Itanium development team to Intel.