Microsoft's decision to end development of 64-bit versions of mainstream Windows operating systems should cause users to reassess their Intel server strategy, analysts have warned.
Until Microsoft made its surprise announcement earlier this month, Itanium was widely considered the natural progression for users running 32-bit Xeon servers in their datacentres.
With Microsoft withdrawing its commitment to Itanium, hardware based on the Intel 64-bit chip could remain expensive.
Users should start investigating hybrid 64-bit/32-bit server technology, analysts said.
The Nocona Xeon chip and the AMD Opteron offer 64-bit extensions that allow users to run 64-bit and 32-bit applications on the same hardware.
But this is relatively immature technology and the version of Windows with 64-bit extensions is still in beta, warned Mike Thompson, principal analyst at Butler Group.
Meta Group analyst Rakesh Kumar said most users would buy servers equipped with these hybrid systems. There is no immediate need to develop 64-bit applications unless large amounts of memory are needed, he said.
Kumar expects suppliers to improve 32-bit systems over time to match Itanium.