64-bit Windows XP and Server 2003 betas released

Microsoft has made available the latest builds of its 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003...

Microsoft  has made available the latest builds of its 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003 Enterprise.

Each features a handful of improvements, including the Luna user interface, Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player, infrastructure support for Bluetooth, and the .net Framework 1.1. 

Company officials also announced on Wednesday they would be changing the name of the desktop version to Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and the various server versions of the product, which will now be called the Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition, and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter x64 Edition. 

"With these builds we are essentially bringing the product to parity with the 32-bit version of Windows XP Pro and Home.

"The 64-bit versions have the same UI and support for Bluetooth and wireless. This will help our partners to build drivers for a Bluetooth device as they would for [the 32-bit version of] Windows XP Professional," said Brian Marr, product manager for Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. 

The major difference between the 64-bit version and its 32-bit counterpart is its ability to directly address significantly more memory, which is vital for higher-end workstation users and server administrators. 

"When we first started building the 64-bit product, it was really just targeted at high-end workstation users. The OS to them is a tool, more than anything else, to do things like build Cad designs.

"But then we started seeing a huge amount of interest among high-end enthusiast customers who were demanding things like Movie Maker, Windows Messenger, and Media Player," Marr said. 

There have been 125,000 downloads of the product's previous build, according to company officials.

Microsoft has also added support for a range of languages, including Japanese, German, French, Swedish, Spanish, Korean, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. 

It plans to add all of the security improvements contained in the Windows XP Service Pack 2 to the 64-bit product. 

"With the Service Pack [2] security improvements, the XP Pro and Home features, and the code base reliability of [Windows] Server 2003 it makes for a very well balanced OS," Marr said. 

Company officials said both Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 are still expected to be delivered simultaneously sometime during the first half of 2005. 

Ed Scannell writes for Infoworld

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