Microsoft is gearing up for the release of its hybrid 64-bit Windows operating system following last week’s introduction of a second release candidate for the software.
Code for both Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition RC2 is available to anyone on the Microsoft technical beta programme and via the Customer Preview Programme.
Microsoft has not issued a firm date for the operating systems’ launch, but it expects this to be in the first half of 2005.
In the run-up to the launch, Microsoft is running a roadshow for business application developers called Route 64, which aims to give insights into the issues of moving applications onto new operating systems.
Mark Tennant, Windows server product marketing manager, said, "Most applications should run x64 Edition software." However, he said there may be some tweaking needed to get the software and drivers running.
The benefit in moving to the new x64 operating systems, according to Microsoft, is the greater memory support. The more memory there is installed, the faster applications will run.
There could also be a benefit in the speed of delivery of software projects, according to Tennant. "We hear of developers spending 50% of coding time working around the 4Gbyte memory barrier [on 32-bit systems]," he said.
Applications developed using Visual Studio .net 2003 could take advantage of the extra memory available in x64 systems, he added.
Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition can offer users a way to run 32-bit and 64-bit applications at high performance.
Microsoft sees Windows x64 Edition operating systems as an important stepping stone for users to migrate to 64-bit at their own pace while preserving their investment in 32-bit applications.
With the availability of hybrid chips from AMD and Intel, Microsoft claimed users would see considerable performance improvements across a variety of workloads in Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, compared to the 32-bit versions.